Nothing says blissful country life in October like a trip with the kids to a local pumpkin patch.

Guidestone Colorado had a full turnout during the weekend with about 300 visitors per day during the 15th Annual Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Festival. 

The festival continues Oct. 15-17 at the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center, 8913 W. U.S. 50, between Salida and Poncha Springs. A limited number of tickets are available online for $10 per person. Children younger than 2 years old are admitted free. 

After pandemic restrictions limited attendance last year, the tickets to this year’s pumpkin patch have been selling out quickly, said Leah Capezio, operations director for Guidestone.

“It has been great to see this kind of turnout,” Capezio said as parents and children streamed into the 2.5-acre festival property. “It has all been very smooth.”  

Admission includes hay rides,  a petting zoo and a free pumpkin. All proceeds benefit Guidestone’s agricultural educational programs. Capezio said this year’s goal is to raise $22,000 from the festival.

Kelsey Tull brought her three sons, ages 2, 4 and 5, from Leadville to take a tractor ride and pick their pumpkins.

“This is so much fun for them,” Tull said.

Sian Beck was enjoying the full turnout while serving food at the festival.

“It is really nice that we haven’t had to change anything due to COVID this year,” said Beck, a farm-to-school educator with Guidestone.

Guidestone manages the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center, on ranch land that the Hutchinson family donated to Poncha Springs.

Among its educational programs, Guidestone grows vegetables on land leased from the Salida School District next to the district’s soccer fields. 

Guidestone sells about half of its produce, like lettuce and tomatoes and carrots, to the school district. The other half is sold to Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center and local businesses, Beck said.

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