By Colleen Mahoney
With only two weeks before Pumpkinville opens for the season, owners Dan and Diane Pawlowski are getting ready for what could be their busiest season ever.
Along with about 100 employees, the Pawlowskis are putting the finishing touches on the family favorites returning in 2016 and working to ensure that all the exciting new features are ready for their debut.
By far the biggest news for this season is that Pumpkinville has been named an official Peanuts Worldwide partner and one of the top 10 corn mazes in the United States.
The designation as “one of the most sincere pumpkin patches in America,” is part of a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the beloved animated film, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. As an official partner, this year’s corn maze has a Peanuts theme along with the WYRK-FM Country 106.5 logo, which sponsors the maze.
“Being chosen by Peanuts Worldwide is an honor … and a very big deal,” Dan Pawlowski said. “We’re one of only three farms in the eastern United States to be among the top ten.”
In addition to navigating the maze, guests will be invited to play Peanuts Bingo while inside. Each participant will get a Bingo card. Throughout the maze there will be five stations with an icon to be scratched off the card. At the end of the maze, those who got Bingo can enter their card for a chance to win a trip for four to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
Peanuts characters will be visiting Pumpkinville throughout the season, but the official Corporate Snoopy Character will be at the farm on Saturday, Sept. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 1. There will be backgrounds set up so you can have your photos taken with the characters, and visitors will have the opportunity to purchase tons of Peanuts branded merchandise celebrating the anniversary.
Besides all the Peanuts related activities, the Pawlowskis are introducing the brand-new Pumpkinville Express, a seven-minute train ride that will take riders around a portion of the farm. The Pawlowskis bought the train about two years ago and it was delivered earlier this year after some renovations and retrofitting. In addition to getting the train ready, a track and a loading dock were built. The loading dock has a drop off area for strollers and there are picnic tables for those who want to relax while waiting for their group to get off the train.
“The Pumpkinville Express is our big expansion this year,” Dan Pawlowski said. “People expect more each year … and we try and give it to them.”
In the interest of more, Pumpkinville visitors will no longer be limited to two dozen of the Pawlowski’s famous donuts. During the off season, the Pawlowskis bought a “mega donut” machine, Dan said. The new machine means twice the number of donuts can be made in the same amount of time.
“We were at 85 dozen per hour but now we can do 150 dozen an hour,” Dan said. “We hated having to limit our customers to two dozen … we’re famous for our donuts, we shouldn’t have had to do that.”
Along with increasing their rate of donut making, Dan said he hopes they can reduce the amount of time visitors spend in line. With the two dozen limit, multiple people in a group would get in line to buy their 24 donuts.
“We’re hoping to limit the line … and make everyone happy, including us,” Dan Pawlowski said. “That’s behind the scenes stuff … we’re hoping it helps.”
In addition to the return of the delicious donuts, Pumpkinville is adding a pumpkin-flavored funnel cake topped with cream cheese and homemade caramel sauce. It will be available beginning opening day.
“We’re the oldest pumpkin farm in New York,” Dan Pawlowski said. “We didn’t jump on the pumpkin craze, we invented it!”
And being the oldest pumpkin farm in the state keeps Dan and Diane, along with their children Lisa and Jim, faithful to the farm. Each pumpkin sold is grown by the Pawlowskis, and during the offseason they’re working to get Pumpkinville ready for the next year.
“I’m proud to call myself a farmer … and we’re going to stay a farm,” Pawlowski said. “We always strive to do better, we owe it to our visitors.”
While they strive to do better and bring in new aspects each year, Pumpkinville has not abandoned any of your family favorites. The Kiddie Spookum Barn, farm animals, Storyland and Corn TeePee will all be returning for the 2016 season, as will the delicious foods, pies, produce, gifts and more.
“We’re blessed with generations of visitors … we’re going to bring back what works.”
Pumpkinville, located at 4844 Sugartown Road in Great Valley, will be open daily from Sept. 17 through Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.Pumpkinville.com.