Pumpkin Pageantry

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    The Bolay Pumpkin Patch started out nine years ago as one of Karolyn Bolay’s 4-H projects. Although Karolyn is now a senior at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater and her 4-H days are behind her, the pumpkin patch has not withered on the vine.

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    Her parents, Kurt and Beth Bolay, have assumed primary responsibility for tending the patch and marketing the pumpkins. But Stillwater is close enough to the family farm near Perry that Karolyn can still help some weekends. An older daughter, Kathryn, and her husband, Jay Staude, also help on weekends.

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    “It was too good of a business to just close down,” says Beth. “Plus, it is fun to see families come out. We host family reunions, birthday parties, and church groups.” Last year, they hosted 60 international students from OSU. “The return per acre is way better than anything else,” adds Kurt.

    A few pumpkins are brought into a shed for people who aren’t able to cut their own.

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    But it does take a lot of time and a lot of work. October is the busiest month, of course. The patch is open every weekend until Halloween, along with Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Plus, they host numerous school groups by appointment on weekdays. There is no charge for the school tours, during which Beth explains how pumpkins are raised and used. There is a charge for the pumpkins. A typical jack-o’-lantern pumpkin costs $4.

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    Time is an issue during the growing season, also. Kurt works for the company that makes Ditch Witch equipment, and Beth is program director for the Noble County YMCA. They also have cattle to tend. Weeds and insects are a constant challenge. At first, Kurt used a backpack sprayer, but soon he graduated to a mist blower on a 50-hp. tractor.

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    Dry weather is another challenge. Kurt usually has to irrigate the 8-acre patch several times a season. That means moving pipe from one part of the patch to another, which takes several hours. The Bolay Pumpkin Patch is primarily a you-pick-it operation. That saves some time for the Bolays, and it holds a lot of appeal for both children and adults. Witness the little girl above who has just laid claim to a pumpkin.

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    “We have been amazed at how many people have never picked anything, even though we are in a rural area,” says Kurt. A few years ago Beth started creating designs on some of the pumpkins still on the vine by scarring the skin when the pumpkins start to change color.

    In addition to the pumpkin patch, there is a maze made out of baled hay for children.

8 acres of pumpkins await visitors to the Bolay Pumpkin Patch

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