BROCKPORT, N.Y. -- As eager pumpkin pickers scoured the McCracken Farms Great Pumpkin Patch for the perfect pick on Saturday, and children enjoyed the fall festivities, owner Paul McCracken thought back to what it took to get to this point.
“Months of work,” McCracken said. “We go full speed in the beginning of September. That’s when we really start getting everything prepped to go. We start harvesting gourds, we harvest pumpkins and setting up decorations and cutting corn stocks.”
Originally owned by his grandfather, McCracken said the pumpkin patch closed when his grandfather decided to it was time to slow down. During that time, McCracken was serving as a United States Army Captain. After much thought however, McCracken said he decided to leave the military, buy the farm, and revive the pumpkin patch. It’s now in its second year back.
“Honestly when I was younger, the last thing I wanted to be was a farmer,” McCracken said. “I always said no, no, no, so I went to college. I got a commission in the army and I was doing that. It kind of gets in your blood and I came over the years. People come back to it. It’s what they’ve known when they’re younger.”
Now it’s easy to see the hard work has paid off, with visitors coming from all areas of the region.
“I think it’s great for families to come out together and hang out because there is such a lot of stuff to do,” Brockport resident Katie Suebullo said.
For some, like the Gonyea family, it’s a reminder of the good old days. Sonja Gonyea said she started bringing her 13-year-old twin boys to the farm when they were 4-years-old.
“I remember most the stuff as we’re walking back through,” Mitch Gonyea said.
Matthew Gonyea said he’s glad to see it re-opened.
“It’s great that he wants to help the community and help kids have fun during fall,” he said.
For others it’s about starting new family traditions.
“This is going to be very fun every year that we do it, lots of memories, lots of memories,” Hilton resident Colleen Burritt said.
Even if McCracken never imagined the farm would be his life now, it’s the smiles of the families who go through there that make it worth it.
Besides the activities, McCracken also brought in several community organizations including the Brockport Fire Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and the LifeNet Helicopter.
They plan to host a blood drive on October 25.
The pumpkin patch will be open every weekend of October from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., except for Halloween.