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Have you seen the pumpkins at the Kraay Family Farm near Lacombe?

The local attraction is on a national Top 20 list
The Kraay Family Farm, west of Lacombe, was selected to have one of the Top 20 Pumpkin Patches in Canada by Chef’s Plate. (Contributed photo).

The Great Pumpkin could be persuaded to visit the Kraay Family Farm next month as its Pumpkin Patch was chosen among the Top 20 in Canada.

Based on criteria that includes admission prices and customer online ratings, officials from the food delivery service Chef’s Plate selected the Lacombe attraction as No. 17 on their cross-country list. It’s topped by Maan Farms of Abbotsford, B.C., and has the Edmonton Corn Maze at No. 2 and Calgary Farmyard at No. 8.

Rachel Kraay, who owns and operates the farm located west of Lacombe with her husband Reuben, is happy to get the recognition. She said a lot of people come to Kraay Family Farm for its 12-acre corn maze, its goats, games and other attractions and are not aware there’s also a four-acre pumpkin patch. She thinks the Top 20 list is a fun way of building public awareness.

The Kraays have grown pumpkins for some time — mainly as ammunition for the farm’s “pumpkin blaster” which can be aimed at targets. More recently, the patch was expanded to provide many different varieties of pumpkins, as well as their smaller cousins, gourds.

As well as orange ones, the farm grows yellow, white and speckled “worties” — types of pumpkins that people wouldn’t typically find in a grocery store, said Kraay.

You can check out the colorful array while riding on the “grain train” that circles the patch.

Growing the large, seedy fruit with a thick rind is not easy in Central Alberta because of the short growing season. Kraay said pumpkin seedlings have to be started in a greenhouse in March or April in order to get a full-sized fruit this time of year.

Since pumpkins are very sensitive to frost and tend to get mushy, they must be picked and then covered with a tarp before nighttime temperatures plunge, she added.

There are a myriad of other attractions at the Kraay Family Farm, including a zip line and various bouncing, riding, swinging, climbing, aiming, rolling, bubble-making games. There are also goats, peacocks, chickens, and other animals, and ice cream and other treats.

Kraay said this year’s novelties include a giant swing that can hold 10 people, a new expresso bin, and the Crowbar craft beer garden.

Proceeds from this year’s pumpkin and sunflower sales will be donated to groups that fight childhood cancer, including Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Stollery Hospital and Kids Cancer Care. Kraay is aiming to raise about $30,000 for charities.

This 24th season at the Kraay Family Farm will end on Oct. 14. So while Peanuts character Linus has a habit of waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” to appear on Halloween, an earlier appearance will be needed in Central Alberta.

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