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Maple Hills Orchard has a host of fall activities for kids and families, including the search for the perfect pumpkin. Submitted Photo

Orchards to host kids' activities

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Tomorrow marks the start of the month of October, and that means pumpkin fever is in full swing.

Pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie baking, pumpkin soup making... it all starts with picking the right one, and Detroit Lakes area residents have a variety of options available to choose from this fall.

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Maple Hills Orchard (maplehillsorchard.com), located just south of U.S. Highway 10 at 29355 130th Street, between Detroit Lakes and Frazee, offers 15 different types of pumpkins, from Jack-o-lanterns large and small to Jamboree, Goosebumps and even a few truly unique varieties.

"Our peanut pumpkin looks like it has peanuts growing on its side, and we have Cinderella pumpkins -- guaranteed to turn into a coach at midnight," joked Gary Goreham, who co-owns and manages the orchard with his wife, Jonna.

There will be three different ways to the pumpkins, he said.

"You can get some of those we have here at the store, or you can take one of the wheelbarrows out to the pumpkin patch -- and we also have hayrides that go out there," said Goreham.

But picking pumpkins is just part of the fun.

"We have lots of things here," Goreham said. "We're still right in the middle of apple season. This weekend we'll have six different varieties of apples available at our store.

"We have a play area for the children, and a straw pile. Inside the store, we have a pumpkin painting area set up, and colored sand art, where they can make different designs with the sand. We also have a place for picnics, and a nature trail area. If people want to bring their lunch and spend the whole day out here, we have lots of things to do."

The Apple House store, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays through the end of October (the same hours as the pumpkin patch), also offers orchard honey, large, hardy Minnesota mums, winter squash, fall raspberries, gourds, mini-pumpkins and decorative corn for sale.

"We've also got all kinds of pie making equipment and children's books," Goreham said. "Everything we have here at the store is Minnesota made, or Minnesota grown.

"Anything you could want, we'll try to provide -- but mostly, fun. We want lots of kids to come."

'Pumpkins & Ponies'

New to the fall harvest fun this year is the Timberline Ranch & Petting Farm (timberlineranch.net), which will have its "Pumpkins & Ponies" on Saturdays and Sundays during the first three weekends in October. The pumpkin patch will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

"This is our first year at it," said owner Ann Tyge, noting that the ranch is open every summer for trail rides, and also offers pony rides and a free petting zoo.

"We thought maybe we should be doing something to promote the ranch a little more," said Tyge, explaining the decision to add a pumpkin patch this year.

When people arrive out at the ranch, they will be transported to the pumpkin patch by a hay wagon, pulled by a tractor.

"We'll have pony rides on a ring, and we'll be cooking up some hot dogs and maybe some s'mores," she said. "We'll have a little gift shop, and a small horse trail ride going (for ages 9 and up)."

Parents and children will be able to purchase tickets, which can then be used to participate in a variety of activities.

"We'll have stations set up for temporary tattoos, face painting... we'll keep them busy," said Tyge.

The petting zoo is free, she added. Animals to be found at the Timberline Ranch include rabbits, goats, donkeys, ponies, chickens, geese, turkeys and horses.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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