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Pumpkins and ponies

By Staff | Oct 14, 2011

From left are Jacob Decker, 17 months old, and his sisters, Hannah, 10, and Morgan, 8, who were glad that their mother, Nancy, brought them up from Des Moines to spend the day at Pumpkins and Ponies near Humboldt on Oct. 8.

HUMBOLDT- Bob and Lonnie Larson’s willingness to provide occasional pony rides for local children has evolved into a popular fall festival that has helped connect farmers with their non-farm neighbors for the past six years.

“We host Pumpkins and Ponies to offer people an opportunity to enjoy a fun day in the country,” said Lonnie Larson, who farms south of Humboldt with husband, Bob. “There are too many people who have never had the chance to visit a working farm, so we want to provide activities for the whole family.”

Attendance has been growing each year for Pumpkins and Ponies, which attracted more than 1,200 people on Oct. 8.

The event, held at Spring Vale Farm, included horse-drawn wagon rides to the Larsons’ pumpkin patch, pony rides on the farm, a petting zoo, and vendors who sold baked goods, honey, jam, jelly and more.

“I’ve been coming here ever since Pumpkins and Ponies started, and it’s always a nice day in the country,” said Steve Rodriguez, of Humboldt, who noted that the Larsons add new attractions each year.

16-month-old Adrian Foster, had his grandmother, Roberta Foster, of Humboldt, by his side during his pony ride, which is led by Taylor Gidel, who is a member of the Bits and Bridles 4-H Club of Humboldt.

“While the event has really grown through the years, it’s not too big,”?Rodriguez said, “it’s just right.”

Making memories

The Larsons, who raise Missouri Fox Trotters, praise their friends and neighbors for volunteering at Pumpkins and Ponies, which is open to the public.

Area 4-H club members helped with the pony rides, which included a freewill donation, and the youth group from a Lutheran church helped serve lunch.

Pumpkins and Ponies attracts families from Des Moines to Mason City and beyond, said Bob Larson, who noted that children are thrilled to pick their own pumpkins from the patch.

No pumpkin from the patch costs more than about $5, said Lonnie Larson, who believes it’s important to keep Pumpkins and Ponies affordable for young families.

“We love seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they come to the farm and have a good time,” Larson said. “Once people come to Pumpkins and Ponies, they come back the next year.”

Visitors could purchase pumpkins, squash and gourds the Larsons grow in their one-acre patch.

They also grow Jack O’Lanterns, Cinderella heirloom pumpkins and unique blue pumpkins. No pumpkin in the patch costs more than about $5, said Lonnie Larson, who believes it’s important to keep Pumpkins and Ponies affordable for young families.

The pumpkin crop performed pretty well this year, despite this summer’s hot, dry weather, Bob Larson said, who takes time out from harvesting corn and beans to host the annual event.

“This is a busy time of year for farmers, but it’s important to stop and smell the roses once in awhile,”?he said. “I’m glad families can come here and make a memory.”

You can contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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