We went to two pumpkin patches near the college to find out which one was better — Louisburg Cider Mill or Deanna Rose Children’s Farm?
Louisburg Cider Mill
We arrived at the Louisburg Cider Mill around 5:30 p.m. The weather was not on our side, as it was cloudy and had sprinkled on the drive there, but I was determined to not let the chilly temperature ruin my experience. We walked in the entrance and were greeted by a very friendly worker who informed us that the patch closes at six. The tickets are $6.48 with tax; a reasonable price considering how much there is to do.
Since it was a weekday, the pumpkin patch itself was not very full. As we walked around, we began to notice a funny smell coming from the patch. The smell of rotting pumpkins infiltrated our nostrils and became very nauseating at one point. Although we did come a week before Halloween, the selection of actual pumpkins was very bare. I didn’t find one pumpkin in the patch that wasn’t misshapen or deformed in some way. There were pumpkins closer to the entrance that looked like they were hand-picked for the ease of shoppers. Our failure at finding pumpkins was a little disappointing, but all of the activities offered improved my mood. Starting with things exclusive for children, there was a bounce-house type of activity and a tricycle area to play in as well. Moving up in age there was the corn maze, petting zoo and a hayride that took visitors around the patch. Unfortunately, the hayride was closed, but I imagine during a warmer day the hayride would be very entertaining. Before leaving I made sure to grab some decorative pumpkins that were near the entrance area.
While the outdoor aspect of the Cider Mill was a little disappointing, that is not its best feature. The inside gift shop area located across from the farm is the most outstanding aspect of the whole experience. Accompanied with fall-flavored treats, small souvenirs and gallons of apple cider for purchase, the store emits an energy that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The shelves alongside the aisles were packed full of different flavors of jams and jellies. The store lays out a path that makes shopping convenient and fast for customers. Following the path leads to a traditional gift store with merchandise ranging from t-shirts and sweatshirts to reusable mugs and magnets.
The path then leads to what is (in my opinion) the best part of the whole store: the cider doughnuts. There is a window that gives customers a glance into the frying process of making one of the famous cider doughnuts. Each doughnut is shaped by a machine that ejects them into a vat of hot oil, baking them much faster than an oven. Once fried, the doughnuts are lightly coated with cinnamon sugar. It’s no joke when I say that I look forward to these doughnuts all year. If you are lucky enough to come while the machine is still on you will be delighted to taste them fresh off the press. Each ingredient of the doughnut combines so well to form the best way to end a day at the pumpkin patch.
As if the experience couldn’t get better, their famous apple cider is the perfect drink to sip on as you get back in your car and start the drive home. I am not the biggest fan of hot drinks, as they always burn my tongue, but this apple cider is worth any temporary pain. With a plethora of variations of apple cider, there is certain to be a flavor that sticks out to you. Personally, I think the Honeycrisp flavor is the best as it is sweeter and crisper than the regular flavor. Drinking the apple cider made up for the lack of pumpkins and mediocre weather.
While Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead definitely had a better selection of pumpkins and featured many animals available for petting, a trip to the Louisburg Cider Mill is the perfect fall activity. With activities for people of all ages and the best doughnuts ever, there is no competition between the two.
Story by Alieu Jagne
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
With wooden fences housing ambling ponies, bleating goats and a pen full of fluffy bunnies, Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead doesn’t exactly scream Halloween. But, this year’s addition of the Pumpkin Hollow attraction might change that.
After a meager $3 admission fee — which, oddly, we were never asked for during our trip to the farmstead — anyone hoping to take a trip to Pumpkin Hollow must pay another $8. A horse-drawn wagon, padded with handfuls of hay, takes visitors to the tiny pumpkin patch which rests behind a hand-painted sign. Here, pumpkin-themed games, a grand hay pyramid and a hay slide await child guests. The pumpkin patch is small and the attraction seems to lie mostly with the games for children, which makes sense considering Deanna Rose Farm is branded as a family attraction. The small patch offered an unexpected convenience, though; rather than having to walk or ride an infuriatingly slow wagon to this or that side of a giant pumpkin field, visitors could simply walk in and select a pumpkin of their choosing without any hassle. These pumpkins were pre-picked and scattered across layers of wood chips, ensuring that none of the pumpkins were rotten or damaged.
The park itself is a winner no matter what time of year you visit. I might be biased; I was pretty much raised at this park for most of my childhood, visiting nearly every single weekend for years. Since then, Deanna Rose has changed greatly; the core elements of goat feeding, pony riding and fishing with worms remain, but a vintage strip mall of sorts has appeared in the center of the park, offering an ice cream shop, a gift shop with stuffed animals, quality toys and vintage candy and an old-timey bank where visitors can pick up a scavenger hunt notebook. There’s even a photo parlor where you can take a vintage photo with your family or friends.
However, the animals are, were and always will be Deanna Rose’s main attraction. Adult goats rest their front two hooves on the sides of their fences, begging for 25 cent pellets; snorting pigs wander their pen, tails swishing away flies; tiny ponds house ducks of all shapes, sizes and colors; the same Texas longhorn and bison share the same pen as they did when I was five years old; lackadaisical pony rides are offered for children under a certain height; and, the belle of Deanna Rose’s ball, baby goats play and sleep in their own pen, waiting for visitors to stop by and hand-feed them bottles of milk. We had far more fun wandering around and petting the farm’s animals than we did at the pumpkin patch itself.
As far as the Louisburg Cider Mill goes, I’m sure it was better a few weeks ago — however, by the time we got there, every pumpkin was gutted and rotten and the stench flooded the entire field. There were a few attractions, like a gaggle of penned goats and a giant blow-up trampoline, but the patch itself was awful and the stink of the pumpkins was unbearable.
The merchandise and souvenirs in the Louisburg building where their famous cider is sold were nice, but no purchase at the mill can compare to the experience a 25-cent handful of food pellets at Deanna Rose offers. The farmstead is advertised for children, but is great for people of any age; with the addition Pumpkin Hollow, Deanna Rose became an unbeatable Halloween attraction.
Story by Samantha Joslin.