All my life I have always visited the same local pumpkin patch, not really knowing what else was out there. Last year, someone told me about Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center in South Barrington. They described it as amazing and quickly pulled out their cell phone to show me pictures of Goebbert’s, which is basically the Holy Grail of pumpkin farms. (Scroll down and just try and look at the picture of the giraffe and tell me you don’t want to go, to0!) I immediately knew that I was going to try Goebbert’s for myself. I waited for a Sunday with perfect crisp fall weather to visit. When that day came, I set out to Goebbert’s Fall Festival with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and my Hunter boots on my feet in anticipation of a fabulous day and some great fall fun.
Upon pulling up to the farm, Goebbert’s signature smiling pumpkin face on top of their barn greets all visitors. You will also find a farm market where you can purchase fall decorations and farm-fresh vegetables. Inside their building is a shop, as well as the Red Barn Cafe where you can dine. Although it was crowded, Goebbert’s provides guided parking, and no shortage of parking spaces. I highly recommend bringing a stroller into the pumpkin farm, even for preschoolers, because we walked quite a distance from the parking lot to the festival area. I found myself walking and carrying my three year old who claimed he was “too tired to walk.” The stroller would have been very useful.
What is nice about Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center is that you only pay for what you want to do. There is no general admission fee and no parking fee. You can simply go in and purchase your perfect pumpkin and then play on the free playground and call it a day, or you can choose to do more. Last year we paid for entry into Animal Land and Playland, because, well, the giraffe completely won me over. Everyone age three and older needs a ticket to enter, and it includes a lot of attractions: 50 different animals, the giraffe, a wagon ride, a slide, a pumpkin eating dinosaur, pig races, corn maze, and magic shows (weekends only). You can also purchase individual jumping pillow, haunted house, camel ride, gem mining, and duck derby tickets. We might consider those this year, but last year we had plenty of fun spending our time in Animal Land and Playland.
The first thing we did was to head over to the giraffe. To get to the giraffe, we had to walk up the wooden ramp to reach the top of the enclosure. This ramp is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, and puts guests at the perfect height to interact with the giraffe. They give you a cup of carrots to feed him and the giraffe is very social and will walk right over to you. When you run out of carrots, you can purchase more. I am a bit of a cheapskate, and after we ran out, I found piles of carrots on the ledges and ground that kids had spilled and put those in our cup to extend the time we had feeding it.
While I loved the giraffe, my son was a little freaked out whenever it would come close to him. So we went off to go visit the 50 other animals that Goebbert’s has in their Fall Festival. In Animal Land, you will receive a new cup of carrots and can walk freely around to see and pet the animals. Here you will find some of the basic animals that you would expect at a petting zoo like sheep, pigs, cows, baby chicks, and goats. In addition, there are exotic animals such as baby kangaroos, lion cubs, bear cubs, macaws, owls, and even zebras. My son did not want to leave the goat’s side. He probably gave them half of his cup of carrots, and kept yelling “He likes me! He likes me!”
After spending a good hour with the animals in Animal Land we went over to check out the pumpkin eating dinosaur. I personally have never seen a robotic dinosaur crush pumpkins with its teeth. This was a definite selling point about this farm for us, as I have a dinosaur-obsessed son. Here you can purchase pumpkins and feed it to this beast, or you can simply watch other people squash their pumpkins and large gourds. I chose the latter option, and we watched in amazement.
Where we probably spent the most time at was the corn box. I just could not pull my son out of that giant box filled with corn kernels, toys, and a slide. Even when I told him that the farm was closing for the night and all of the workers were going home, he just didn’t want to leave. The only downside is that the kernels get everywhere. I found them all in his shirt and even in his socks later that night. But I guess that’s simply a sign of a child who had a great fall day.
My one regret from last year is that we didn’t get to spend enough time there. We went after lunch, and I found that we needed more time to do everything that is offered. This year I would like to go first thing in the morning and spend the whole day there, because at Goebbert’s, you really can spend a whole day there without having bored kids. I want to go on the hayride, see a pig race or a magic show, mine for gems, and take great pictures of my son atop of a camel. I also would like to eat lunch at the Red Barn Cafe. I have scoped out the menu and already decided that I want to try their famous apple cider donuts with maybe a hot dog on the side. I am also looking forward to having another perfect fall day on the farm with my family.
Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center
Open Daily from 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Fall festival runs from September 24 – October 31, 2016
40 W. Higgins Rd, South Barrington
For more information, contact Goebbert’s Farm at (847) 428-6727