By Johnny Jackson
For many locals, visiting the Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch is a family tradition.
The Gammage Family, of McDonough, for instance, has visited the Stockbridge agri-tainment and agri-tourism farm every year for more than a decade.
"Our kids always love coming," said Dock Gammage.
Yule Forest, at Ga. Highway 155, is owned and operated by Suzie and Allen Grant. They began farm operations 30 years ago, with a crop of live Christmas trees, and landscape trees. "I'm the person in the field, and Suzie has a master's degree in education," joked Allen Grant.
This summer, the couple worked diligently to transform their farm into a pumpkin patch with about a dozen, entertaining activities for would-be patrons this fall.
This will be the 19th year the farm has featured a pumpkin patch, noted Allen Grant. New this year, he said, is the patch's "jumping madness" inflatable air pillow, and a new obstacle course. He said patrons will also find a new "Georgia Growing Green" exhibit, which encourages recycling and other conservation habits.
"It's about education, too," said Suzie Grant. "That's what we focus on. We're all about family, fun, and fuzzy friends."
Suzie Grant said perennial attractions for the Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch include the farm's wildlife nature trail and mural, which identifies the native Georgia species to passers-by.
The operation also features a petting zoo, with farm animals; a science center, with a reptile exhibit; and horseback riding on the weekends.
Visitors can take part in a hay ride and field maze, as well, added Suzie Grant. Some of the other attractions are visible from the roadway, including the pumpkin patch's fun house and inflatable games.
Allen Grant said the pumpkin patch's main attraction is the 1.5-acre row of moderately-sized pumpkins near the center of the farm.
He recently invited the Gammage Family out to the patch to see what it had to offer. "They [the children] love it," beamed Andra Gammage. "In fact, my oldest [child, Grayson] wants to work here."
Andra Gammage recalled how the family has visited the farm's pumpkin patch since before their oldest child, 10-year-old Grayson, was born.
"I can't imagine not having it," she said. "It's the way our family kicks off the fall season every year. It's not fall without the pumpkin patch."
The Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch is located at 3565 Ga. Hwy. 155 North in Stockbridge. It opens Saturday, and will be open through Oct. 30. Times of operation are weekdays, 4-7 p.m., and weekends, from 9 a.m., until 6 p.m. For more in formation, call the farm at (770) 954-9356.
On the net:
Yule Forest at Ga. Hwy. 155: www.aboutyule.com