Picking your own pumpkin is a tradition in Arizona even when fall temperatures still feel like summer. Family farms from Queen Creek to Dewey are opening their pumpkin patches to the public next month:
SCHNEPF FARMS PUMPKIN & CHILI PARTY
This festival will include hayrides, roller coasters, corn mazes, carousel rides, pig races, bluegrass music, jugglers, a climbing wall and a petting barn. Bring a blanket and chair for the late-night movie and enjoy fireworks at the end of the evening. Details: 24810 E. Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek.
The festival will open Saturday. Hours through the end of October are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12 for children age 3 to 12, $10 for adults. Train rides are $2 per person, and the rock climb is $3 per person. (480) 987-3100 or www.schnepffarms.com.
MOTHER NATURE’S FARM PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
The festival opens 9 a.m. Saturday with the World Pumpkin Weigh-off. Daily festivities will include pumpkin painting, an air bounce, hayrides, pumpkin smashing, an adventure maze and a chance to feed the animals; other activities include the Arizona High School Pumpkin Catapult preliminaries Oct. 22.
Details: 1663 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Oct. 30. $7 per child, $3 per adult. The farm will close at 5 p.m. Oct. 31 for Halloween. (480) 892-5874 or www.mothernaturesfarm.com.
FALL PUMPKIN CELEBRATION
The 12-acre pumpkin patch at Apple Annie’s Produce and Pumpkins has everything from jack-o’- lanterns and white pumpkins to Atlantic Giants that sometimes weigh more than 200 pounds. Pick your own pumpkin and other vegetables or shop for fall decorations. Pumpkins cost from $3 to $12.
Details: 6405 W. Williams Road, Willcox. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 30. $2 per person. (520) 384-2084 or www.appleannies.com.
20TH ANNUAL YOUNG’S FARM PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
Pick your own pumpkin in a 20-acre patch or take your kids through the corn maze, haunted house, pumpkin bounce and other kidfriendly activities. Wagon rides to the pumpkin patch are free.
Details: At the junction of state routes 69 and 169 in Dewey. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Oct. 7-23. $4. (928) 632-7272 or www.youngsfarminc.com.
• Choose an unbruised pumpkin about the size and shape of your design, which has a flat bottom and is smooth and evenly colored.
• For children, choose a softer, lighter-colored pumpkin. They don’t last as long, but they’re easier to carve.
• Draw a lid on the top of your pumpkin and a "tooth" at the back of the lid as a guide for replacement. Carefully cut along the lines with a knife. Angle the blade toward the center of the pumpkin to create a ledge that supports the lid.
• Clean out the seeds and strings with a spoon or scoop. Scrape the inner pulp until the pumpkin wall is approximately 1 inch thick.
• Trim the pattern, leaving a 1 /2-inch border around the design. (Download free designs at www.spookmaster.com.) Tape the pattern to your pumpkin and make sure it fits smoothly.
• Saw at a 90-degree angle to the pumpkin, using gentle pressure.