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Off to the Pumpkin Patch!

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 15, 2008 6:45PM

'Tis the season for pumpkins! While we love Chicago in all of its concrete glory, sometimes we have to make a break for the countryside. Rather than buying our Halloween pumpkins at the local grocery store, we decided to high-tail it down south. Friends told us that we’d have to leave the state to find a decent farm with pumpkins – down to Indiana or up to Wisconsin. We wanted to stay a little closer to home, what with gas being $4.00 a gallon and all. After a few online searches and some advice from a friend, we found Butterprint Farm in Monee, Illinois. Butterprint is a family-owned farm about a 45 minute drive from downtown Chicago.

Butterprint Farm has an $8 admission fee, which gets visitors a whole series of fun attractions in addition to the simple picking of pumpkins. We boarded a tractor-pulled hay wagon for a ride out to their pumpkin patch and adjoining corn maze. We’ve been to a lot of corn mazes in our time and they’re usually not particularly challenging or interesting. This corn maze took us 25 minutes to complete and was full of twists, turns and dead-ends – almost worth the price of admission by itself. After a wander through the pumpkin patch, we picked our four pumpkins ($.40/pound) and took the hay-wagon back to the main farm area. One nice touch – you can wander as long as you want. During the hayride, we got two excellent tips: first, if you cover the cut edges of your carved pumpkin with vaseline, they won't curl and rot as fast. Second, if you rub cinnamon on the inside of the lid, whenever you light a candle inside the pumpkin, the room will smell like baking pumpkin pie.

The farm has a number of other attractions, mostly aimed at children. There’s a petting zoo, musical entertainment, puppet shows, games, food (including snow cones!), some refurbished old farm buildings filled with beautiful antiques, a small nature museum and a restored prairie and wetland. In fact, Butterprint is the winner of a Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the EPA and the Chicago Wilderness Coalition. In a small store at the entrance, they sell farm honey, 20 varieties of gourds and squash and a variety of preserves and jams. There are even more activities – check out the website for details. We were easily occupied for an entire morning, and probably could’ve stayed longer if we’d brought children.

On the way out, one of the employees stopped us and asked if we’d had a good time. After enthusing that we had, they told us that Butterprint was “LGBT friendly” and that they were glad we’d come – a nice touch to end a lovely morning.

Butterprint farm is located at 24936 S. 80th Avenue in Monee. They’re open on weekends in October from 10:00 – 6:00. Check the website for detailed directions and activities schedules.