Schnepf Farms among Valley’s top pumpkin patches

QUEEN CREEK — Schnepf Farms opened the gates to its Pumpkin and Chili Party fall festival on Oct. 5, and community members swarmed to the attractions. Schnepf Farms encompasses 300 acres packed full of activities ranging from pumpkin and vegetable picking to roller coasters and a 20-acre corn maze in the shape of former Arizona Coyotes hockey player Shane Doan’s face.

From families to field trips, the festival drew a wide range of Arizonans. Multiple buses and school vans poured in for the opening day. For one teacher at Whitman Elementary in Mesa, this trip is a highlight of her students’ year.

“It’s a great learning experience for the kids. We come do a field trip here and they pick pumpkins that we bring back to class and later we carve them and grow the seeds,” said Holly Reynolds, who has brought her class to Schnepf for four years now. “It’s just a good old-fashioned farm and the kids love it.”

The field trip slots at Schnepf Farms fill up so quickly, Reynolds signs up for the next year’s trip at the end of opening day.

The general admission ticket is $20, making it the most expensive in the Valley. Other pumpkin patch prices range from free to $12. The general admission ticket at Schnepf Farms includes 26 different activities. There are additional rides and activities for extra fees.

“My favorite part of working here is the kids. They go in happy and don’t last too long because it’s hot, but they come out loving every minute. Their favorite part is the pig races. They absolutely love it,” said Odie Molina, who has been a Schnepf Farms seasonal employee for more than 20 years. Molina said at the end of the day it’s all about making memories for families to hold onto for a lifetime.

Linda Lagese, who has been a Schnepf Farms employee for more than a year but has come as a visitor for years, said there’s no secret ingredient to the farm’s huge success over the years.

“We’re number one every year because our emphasis is on family. Adults that came as kids are now bringing their kids and they still love it,” Lagese said.

The festival will take place Thursdays through Sundays during October. Schnepf Farms is located at 24610 S. Rittenhouse Rd. in Queen Creek.