Eye Spy, Week Seven – Gail’s Pumpkin Patch


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[September 14, 2020]    For the seventh week of the Lincoln Daily News Eye Spy game, readers were hopefully led to Gail’s Pumpkin Patch located just off of Illinois Route 10 near the small town of Beason.

The patch is open annually from September 1st to October 31st and as their name would suggest, they sell a huge variety of pumpkins. However, that is by far not all the business has to offer.


Though Gail’s is a retail establishment, it also qualifies as a local tourist attraction because of the variety of activities and offerings at the patch.

Located on the farm of David and Gail Sasse, the pumpkin patch opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 2006. The Sasses are fourth generation farmers of the land, with the farm passing from Harold and Rosemary Apel to their daughter Gail and her husband.

The two have raised their family on the farm and their children Nathan and Abrigail have also made their own personal contribution to the patch.

According to David Sasse, this year was precarious for the farm as the couple struggled to decide what they could and could not do in the face of the coronavirus. David said that they had conversations with several other pumpkin patches and learned what those businesses were going to do. After much contemplation, David and Gail decided to move forward with their September 1st opening. At the same time, they took into consideration aspects of their patch that could pose particular hazards to the public.

They made the difficult decision to not host their annual farm day in September. Typically on Farm Day the patch hosts some special guests and activities. For the last few years they have featured horse drawn wagon rides, the Nuthatch Hill BBQ wagon, and live music. They also have had special youth activities including pumpkin and face painting and a variety of games and activities. All of those activities require guests maintaining close proximity to one another, so the day was canceled for the safety of the public.

David also noted that this year there will be no popcorn wagon rides for visitors. A feature that was added a couple of years ago which included guests piling into a specially built wagon and taking a ride out to the family’s popcorn fields. Once there, guests could pick their own popcorn to take home with them later.

And, finally, in the play yard behind the sale barn, the little red barn will be closed this year. The barn was a playhouse for young children with games and toys. Because there would be too much risk to children passing along germs to one another, the barn doors will remain closed and a bench has been placed in front of the barn to keep folks from opening the doors.

In spite of the reduction of offerings, there is still plenty to do at the patch and visitors should be able to enjoy the trip to the country on a bright fall day. The barnyard is filled with displays of pumpkins and gourds. Those who want the full experience of visiting the farm are still welcome to go “pick your own” pumpkin in the fields behind the barnyard.

Gail Apel-Sasse said that they are going to take a shot at running the small barrel train around the barnyard, but aren’t sure yet how well that will work out. So on the days you go, the train may or may not be running.

The pumpkin patch is currently growing its orchards and has apples to offer inside their retail store in the barn. The apples are not pick your own, though visitors can walk among the trees and see the bright red and yellow fruits growing.

There are several cut-outs where children (and adults) can poke their head in and have a picture taken. And, the annual ‘how tall are you’ yard stick is carefully mounted on a porch post at the front of the barn. The yard stick is a popular place for visitors and there are a number of folks who visit yearly and each year kids or grandkids pose at the yard stick for their annual picture.

Outside the slide, swing-set, the bumper slide, trike path, bull lasso, and large black tunnel maze is still open and readily available for kids and grown-ups if they so choose.

Picnic tables are set up outside, and inside the barn a big part of the retail offering includes the baked goods made with pumpkin or honey, both products of the farm. One can also purchase bags of popcorn inside so visitors can buy a snack and enjoy it outside on the picnic tables.

Of course, a mainstay at the farm is the animals. This year there are a number of friendly cats and kittens running about and rubbing on the legs of visitors seeking attention. The goat lookout is manned by Penny and Dotty. Both are very friendly and anxious to come to the fence and say hello. Goat food can be purchased in the store for twenty-five cents a cup. Beware though, goats can bite. To feed the goats, pour the food in the special feeder mounted on their fence.

Also inside the barn is the 1948 John Deere A tractor that David restored himself. The tractor has a staircase built on the back for easy access to the driver’s seat. Many is the child who has sat behind the wheel while mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa snapped a photo.

The retail area of the barn has so much to offer. From apples to cider to baked goods and Amish made fruit butters, jellies and jams, there is a huge variety of items to choose from in addition to pumpkins. Also inside the barn, the retail section offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor décor items themed for fall and Halloween.

The patch offers a large variety of pumpkins for decorating including special shapes and unique or unusual colors. There are also a variety of pumpkins and squashes offered suitable for eating. Shoppers should know, there is a difference. An ornamental pumpkin is not necessarily good for eating, and an eating pumpkin is not always the best choice for carving a jack-o-lantern.

Gail, David, and their excellent team of helpers are well equipped to advise you on what to buy based on your personal plans.

In the end, though this year is different, there are many, many things that are still the same at Gail’s Pumpkin Patch. If you didn’t find your way there during the game, please try to find your way there soon. You will have fun, you will be treated well, and regardless of whether or not you make a purchase, it will be a trip well worth your time.

Please note, the patch is going to be closed on Tuesdays this year. Due to the coronavirus the staff at the farm will use that day to deep clean critical areas of the retail location.

[Nila Smith]

Find more details here:  Come play “Eye Spy” with Lincoln Daily News


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