Photo by Heather Middleton
Sydney Pinder holds nine-month-old baby goat, Maxwell, while Emilia Gustafson, 9, and her brother Dylan,7, pet him at The Pumpkin Patch petting zoo in Stockbridge.
By Heather Middleton
STOCKBRIDGE — Before Stephanie met Allen Jr. and married into the Grant family, she was already familiar with the family business — the Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch in Stockbridge.
“We had a great time out here. It’s light, carefree and fun,” she said, recalling her first visit when she was in high school. “It was the kick off to Fall.”
As another Halloween approaches, the pumpkin patch retains the charm that drew Stephanie Grant in the first place. Her role has changed, from visitor to host, but the patch’s atmosphere and family-oriented activities haven’t changed — still drawing families to the 20-acre farm year after year.
“We were looking for some place with a hayride,” said Nicole Calandra.
Calandra and her husband, Joe, brought their 19-month-old daughter, Taryn.
“We saw they had animals and pumpkins, too. We’ve been really impressed,” she said.
Next to several bouncy houses is a giant tent, shading pumpkins and people from the sun. It was the perfect place for Ethan Pritchett, 3, to test his strength. The pumpkin he picked out was as big as he was, but that didn’t stop him.
Luckily for Ethan, his parents, Janey and Victor Rosales, were nearby to lend him a hand.
“It’s really great out here,” Janey Rosales said. The family plans on making their visit to the Pumpkin Patch an annual family tradition.
It started with Christmas trees
The Grants, Susie and Allen Sr., didn’t start out selling pumpkins. They started their Christmas tree business 35 years ago, which explains the “Yule Forest” part of the name.
Twenty-five years ago, about 10 years into it, they were looking to expand their business so they turned to another popular holiday season.
“Fall festivals were new then, so we started with the pumpkins,” Allen Grant Sr. said.
Over the years, their pumpkin patch has grown to include a haunted house, haunted barn, petting zoo, hay rides and their newest feature Zombie Paintball Hayride.
As their business grew, so did their family. Daughter Georgene, 23, manages the petting zoo. Twins, Allen Jr. and Arrah, 21, have also made their mark on the farm.
“The trail is my baby,” said Allen Grant Jr., referring to the Fear the Woods haunted trail.
Riders start on the haunted hayride and then are dropped off in the woods, at night, where they have to follow the haunted trail to get back.
“We’re in full costume and makeup out there,” he said. “We don’t have any special effects, it’s all live actors. I want to make sure everyone’s having a good time.”
Arrah Grant has done much of the decorating at the farm including hand painting all the characters on the hayride trail as well as the giant mural that welcomes guests.
“All our kids grew up on the farm and started working with us when they were little,” Allen Grant Sr., said.
“I have always watched horror shows,” Allen Grant Sr. said. He spent five years going to trade shows and researching what it would take to do a haunted house.
Now after only two years, Fear the Woods has garnered a rating of 9.6 skulls out of 10 at hauntworld.com.
“We have good theatrical scares out here,” he said.
He recommends children middle school age and older for Fear the Woods.
The Zombie Paintball Hayride came about after Allen Grant Sr., saw a similar one at a trade show in the Midwest.
“It was very cool and so much fun,” he said.
Visitors get a chance to ride through the haunted woods at night shooting paintballs at actors dressed as zombies.
Not everything’s scary at The Pumpkin Patch. They also offer train rides, pony rides, a pumpkin jumping pillow, science center, a large live reptile exhibit and petting zoo.
“This is a place where people bring their families and have a good time,” said Allen Grant Sr.
Break Out Box:
Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch is located at 3565 Hwy 155 North Stockbridge, Ga. 30281.
Times: Monday – Friday (4 p.m. until 7 p.m.) No reservation required
Saturday - Sunday (9 a.m. until 6 p.m.)
Admission: $7.50 per person — an upgrade of $1.50 includes fun zone and a small pumpkin.
Some activities are extra (between $2 - $5)
All visitors get a coupon to come back when the Christmas Tree Farm starts their holiday season on Thanksgiving day.
For additional information visit www.aboutyule.com.