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Pumpkin Patch Hayride returns to Elmcrest


Horse-drawn wagon passes the Elmcrest pumpkin patch.

Autumn traditions – pumpkins, apple cider, donuts and horse-drawn hayrides – returned to Elmcrest this fall.

“Just watching kids run to find the pumpkin that’s perfect for them is the best,” said Janene Bartell, who has organized Elmcrest’s annual Pumpkin Patch Hayride for more than 20 years. Each child gets one pumpkin.

(Video: Elmcrest children run to the pumpkin patch)

“It’s all about their personality,” Janene said. Some children want the biggest pumpkin. Others are drawn to the smallest, the bumpiest, or the most oddly shaped, she said. “There’s a pumpkin for everyone.”

Elmcrest children finalize their pumpkins choices.

The event includes a ride around Elmcrest's main campus in a hay wagon pulled by two large draft horses. Many children were eager to pet the gentle horses and the two friendly dogs, Sally and Sheila, that accompanied the two-man crew from Quarry Ridge Stables in Nedrow.

(Video: Elmcrest children climb onto the hayride.)

Elmcrest children pet the draft horses.

All Elmcrest youth residents, preschoolers and many children from Elmcrest’s off-campus programs joined in the socially distanced, outdoor event. The Pumpkin Patch Hayride is fun for all the children, even the older teen boys, Janene said.

“So many of them have never had these experiences before,” Janene said. “If they have a tough persona, you get to see that fade and you see that spark in their eyes. They get excited. They get to be a little kid again.”