Finding the perfect pumpkin is no easy task. You can look at a thousand and still find yourself searching for more.
Well, a small army of Central Whidbey students have been giving it their best shot over the past few weeks. Since he opened his squash patch to the masses earlier this month, Coupeville farmer Dale Sherman’s fields have been buzzing with pumpkin-hunting kids, teachers and parents.
“It gets better and better every year,” said a smiling Sherman, after giving a trolley ride to a group of students last week.
Located on Ebey Road, just a short walk from Coupeville Elementary School, Sherman’s Pioneer Farm Produce is invaded by hundreds of students every October and this year was no exception.
According to Joyce Roethle, the school’s student service secretary, about 275 first-grade through third-grade students visited the farm over the past few weeks. Unsurprisingly, it tends to be a popular event.
“Oh they love it,” Roethle said. “Rain or shine, it’s a big hit.”
Parents often seem to have as much fun as the kids. Trish Hall, whose daughter attends Central Whidbey Cooperative Preschool, said they recently moved to Coupeville and the pumpkin patch sparked warm memories of her own childhood.
“I love it,” Hall said. “I grew up in Nebraska so this is the kind of stuff I remember doing as a kid.”
“This is one of the best parts of living here,” echoed Alison Perera, who visited the farm with her daughter Natalie, 3, and the preschool students.
Sherman said, annual pumpkin sales are an important part of his business but he clearly enjoys it.
He has a tractor that’s painted yellow and black with Tonka written on the side and it’s attached to a custom-made trolley that he gives rides to children who squeal with delight.
“Sure I spend a lot of money on all the toys … but it’s not just a parade tractor,” he defended. “It’s a work tractor.”
Softening, the grizzled farmer admitted to a Whidbey News-Times reporter that while he sometimes gets funny looks from other farmers, he has a pretty good time shepherding kids around his pumpkin patch.
“I do enjoy it,” he said.
For other Halloween and harvest events on Whidbey Island, see the living section