Features

Costumes, pumpkins and spice

That’s what harvest season is made of

On Sept. 30, more than people from all over the Midwest brought their homegrown pumpkins to Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Lockport for the 2017 Monsters of the Midway Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off.
On Sept. 30, more than people from all over the Midwest brought their homegrown pumpkins to Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Lockport for the 2017 Monsters of the Midway Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off.

JOLIET – Pumpkin farms, haunted houses or something else? Which do you prefer this time of year and why?

That was the question I posed on Facebook. Jen Blankenship of Joliet didn’t have to think twice.

“Pumpkin farm!” Blankenship said. “It’s always fun every year. Like the zoo, [it] never gets old, always gets you in the mood for fall.”

Bonnie Strysik of Joliet loves visiting pumpkin farms with her daughter and granddaughter.

“Makes me feel like a little kid again, not that we had that stuff available to us,” Strysik said. “Love the changing colors. Raking leaves so my granddaughter can jump in them.”

Amanda Shafer of Joliet also cast a vote for pumpkin farms for similar reasons. “It’s a fun activity no matter your age and can be very nostalgic,” she said.

Loretta DeMoss of Joliet also loves pumpkin farms – as well as fall leaves, crisp air and “the smell of a fire pit.” Gail Gawlik of Joliet also likes pumpkins farms, but she doesn’t stop there. She likes sitting down to classic Halloween movies with her family.

“My favorites are ‘Young Frankenstein’ and ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ” Gawlik said.

But Marie Larson of Plainfield said she intensely dislikes Halloween, preferring harvest-related decor – such as “fall leaves and their beautiful colors.” Larson also likes pumpkin pie, pumpkin squares and the “crisp smell of fall.”

Donna Billings of Joliet likes pumpkins in several ways.

“I prefer to celebrate the harvest with pumpkins, gourds, leaves and fall colors. Pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting are great,” Billings said. “I don’t like the evil things that are represented this month, but love Thanksgiving.”

But costumes and haunted houses are part of fall fun for Jenny McCue of Chicago, formerly of Joliet. McCue said choosing, planning and creating a costume brings out her artistic side. And, she said she loves to see other people’s designs.

“Everyone wants to be someone else sometimes, and Halloween is the perfect excuse to act upon that desire,” McCue said.

McCue also is planning to do some ghost hunting this year in a “supposedly haunted location.”

“I think being there with actual paranormal investigators will be enlightening, and I look forward to learning more about the tools and methods used in paranormal investigation,” McCue said.

Haunted houses? Count in Duanne Walton of Morris.

“It’s a release for me and allows me to let off some steam,” Walton said. “Plus, I like seeing the detail that goes into them: props, costumes, music, lighting...”

Barbara DeLaney of Crest Hill is looking forward to Witches Night Out at the end of the month, a fundraiser to help local organizations that sold out in two days, said DeLaney, former event coordinator.

A former coordinator of WNO, DeLaney is looking forward to being a regular attendee at this female-friendly event.

“We can shop, eat, drink and dress up all at the same time,” DeLaney said.

Jill Kerzisnik of Morris can’t wait to go apple picking this year at Jonamac Orchard in Malta, Illinois. Kerzisnik said she’s read a lot about apple picking and decided it’s a good way to connect her family with nature.

“I just love the fall weather/sweatshirt weather and I know picking fresh apples will be so much fun,” Kerzisnik said. “I plan to make apple pies with them and possibly take my kids with me to deliver them to nursing homes.”

Christine Randall of Bolingbrook likes apples, too, but in a different way.

“Apple cider doughnuts,” Randall said. “Caramel apples.”

Apple picking and pumpkin farms are musts for Kristina Skaggs of Wilmington – and so is dressing up.

“We are having a costume Halloween party this year. Dressing up and having warm caffeinated drinks makes me happy,” Skaggs said before adding one more autumn bonus: “All the bugs die or hibernate.”

Robin Baudino, formerly of Joliet and now of Hoopeston, listed a few of her favorite autumnal things.

“Hay rack rides and the whole fall Halloween-scene, decorations of hay stacks, cornstalks, scarecrows and crows,” Baudino said.” Squirrels with acorns, running across crunchy fallen leaves and hiding their stash of nuts they gathered for cold empty winters day.”

Julie Blackburn of Romeoville looks forward to corn mazes such as the one she recently visited at Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Lockport with her children, Chase and Emily Blackburn.

“I grew up in the country, and it’s nostalgic to walk in the fields,” Blackburn. “I enjoy sharing with my kids. The height of the stalks and smells in the air are truly autumn!”

Caryn Dean of Plainfield even brings autumn’s beauty into her home.

“I love using nature bits – leaves, twigs ... to make decorative craft items,” Dean said.

Sandy Costa of Joliet heads to Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon for “punkies and Civil War reenactment.” But to Stephen Saporta of Plainfield, fall is about the “beauty of nature” and “a long drive in the country.”

“Driving through Indiana and into Michigan [is] an explosion of color on both sides of the highway,” Saporta said.

Sharon Houk of Joliet likes all the choices, except one.

“Hot apple cider. Pies. Long walks in the crisp air. Football. Costume parties. Making costumes for the little kids. Carving a pumpkin,” Houk said. “No to haunted houses or anything scary. Yes to hayrides and bonfires.”

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KNOW MORE

Does all this talk of pumpkin patches make you want to head out to one? Here’s a few to try. For more fall/Halloween events, check out today’s A&E calendar.

• Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm, Homer Glen – Call 708-301-3276 (FARM) or visit pumpkinfarm.com.

• Dollinger Family Farm, Channahon – Call 815-467-6766 or visit www.dollingerfarms.com

• Heap’s Giant Pumpkins, Minooka – Call 815-475-7373 or visit heapsgiantpumpkinfarm.com.

• Johansen Farms, Bolingbrook – Call 630-759-8711 or visit www.johansenfarms.com

• Konow’s Corn Maze, Homer Glen – Call 708-301-8845 or visit konowscornmaze.com

• Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm, Lockport – Call 741-2693 or visit ourpumpkinfarm.com

• Tom and Zach’s Pumpkin Patch, Lockport – Call 815-838-6816 or visit tomandzachspumpkinpatch.tripod.com

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