After a sweltering summer, fall weather has returned, complete with sensational splashes of autumnal foliage. And if you’ve had a hankering to hand pick your own Halloween pumpkin, then it’s time to trek out to Siegel’s Cottonwood Farms!
With acres upon acres of bright orange orbs, John Deere hay rides, topical corn mazes, a petting zoo, and more, Cottonwood Farms has been providing “affordable family fun” at its pumpkin farm since 1990. But the Siegel family’s roots at the Crest Hill location run much deeper, dating back to 1909.
Fourth generation farmer’s daughter, Kaity Siegel has seen many changes in the area during her tenure at the family’s sprawling 40-acre 17520 S. Weber Road location. She said that Weber Road “used to be a tar and chip road now it is a 4 lane highway with a stop light at our entrance.” And while this once rural area has now turned into a bustling Will Country corridor, the Siegel family remains committed to remaining “the ultimate living classroom.”
Siegel said the fact that Cottonwood Farms “is an actual working family farm” sets it apart from other pumpkin picking destinations. She added that the Siegel family is very concerned about our “heritage in agriculture and educating the public about production of food while still having fun. We feel we are the ultimate living classroom.”
Ever since Cottonwood Farm’s grand opening on September 22, there’s been a run on family fun and farm life lessons, including the ever-popular corn maze that’s open on weekends and Columbus Day. As befits an election year, this year’s theme is “Zombie Politics 2012.” With 20 acres and 5-1/2 miles of paths to choose from, there promises to be something for everyone, including a John Deere tractor maze. It’s recommended that adults accompany children under the age of 12.
While the corn maze has been in operation since 1990, the Siegel’s experience dates back to 1956 when 2-year old Art Siegel took a stroll through the family cornfield. Family members, friends, and even Statesville prison guards were called in to comb the area for the toddler. After much frantic searching, Art was found at a mile away, contentedly eating cookies at a neighbor’s house.
Summer corn might be a sweet memory, but you can have your pick of the pumpkins at Cottonwood Farms. Siegel said that this summer’s drought did have an impact on the pumpkin crop as she noted that, “the pumpkin crop was affected in multiple ways. Pumpkins are made up of 90% water and when you have the lack of rain, pumpkins are extremely light.”
Siegel added that the high temperatures made the pumpkins turn orange a month sooner than they should have. The mild winter also hindered pumpkin production because pesky insects that are usually killed off in the cold temperatures lingered and hung on throughout the winter.
Despite these weather-related hurdles, there are plenty of perfect pumpkins on the premises. Visitors can take a hayride to the U-Pick Pumpkin farm to pick something right off the vine! And if all that poking and prodding helps work up a healthy appetite, then you’ll find a plethora of tasty food options on the weekends, with more limited menu offerings available during the week.
Siegel’s Cottonwood Farms is open every day from 10 a.m until 6 p.m through Wednesday, October 31. Stop by and see why it was voted one of Chicago’s best in 2011 by CBS Chicago. General admission is $10 with coupon during the week, and $12 with coupon on weekends and Columbus Day. Coupons are available online as well as at selected Menard’s locations.
The general admission fee includes over 20 attractions excluding pony rides, gem mining, climbing wall, and the Spooky Spiral.
For more farm facts, background, and online ordering information, visit http://www.ourpumpkinfarm.com/.