When it comes to pumpkin season in Cass County and Lee’s Summit, picking the perfect orange orb is just the beginning of the fun. From petting zoos to silo slides, corn mazes to hay rides, a kaleidoscope of festive events and activities awaits visitors at these fall-friendly destinations.
Red Barn Ranch
Each October, Matt Moreland welcomes thousands of Halloween enthusiasts to a month-long Halloween celebration at his 100-acre farm in Harrisonville. In addition to 8 acres of pumpkins, Red Barn Ranch offers train rides around his family’s scenic farm, a hay tunnel and corn maze, and pumpkin painting and games.
A collection of antique tractors, a swing constructed from a crop irrigator frame, and a silo slide round out the attractions. The Ranch’s general store is stocked with arts, crafts and food from more than a dozen area vendors.
When Moreland opened Red Barn Ranch in 2013, he had no idea it would draw so many fans.
“When we first opened, people said we needed activities,” Moreland said. “I told them I thought picking pumpkins was the activity, but no.
“So, I started to add activities I knew I could put together with what I had. The corn pit, hay tunnel, and slide were my first three. Now, I challenge myself to come up with something new every year that is fun and educational.”
For Moreland, a farmer, education is key and at the heart of his work at Red Barn Ranch.
“I love the farm life and have a passion for educating people through agriculture, so I made myself a promise that everything would be focused on agriculture. Here, I can create an experience and memory kids will have their whole life — and they can also learn.”
For more information, visit the Red Barn Ranch Facebook page.
Those who visit Pumpkin Valley can milk a cow or pet an alpaca after picking their pumpkins. Designed with fall fun in mind, Pumpkin Valley also features pony, train and hay rides; an Indian village; petting zoo; hay maze; and a corn fountain.
Located at the 60-acre Rising Star Equestrian Ranch in Lee’s Summit, Pumpkin Valley has been a family affair for ranch owners Bill and Carola Wohlleber, and their children, Wyatt and Heather, since they opened in 2007.
“I love building things and my objective for the pumpkin patch has been to do new things every year,” Bill Wohlleber said. “This year, we added the cow milking contest, and my wife and I built a caboose for the train.
“We also have the best hayride in town with a view of the whole valley at the top of the hill.”
For more information, visit pumpkinvalley.webs.com.
Surrounded by an apple orchard with 5,000 trees and thousands of fall mum plants, this picturesque 140-acre Belton farm offers 40 acres of U-pick pumpkins. After picking that perfect pumpkin, visitors can hop a barrel train or wagon ride, visit the animal corral, make their way through mazes or top off the day with a rally car ride.
“When we bought this farm 17 years ago, we bought it to do what we’re doing — agritourism,” said owner Jeanne Johnson, referring to an agriculturally based operation that brings visitors to a farm or ranch for entertainment and learning.
“Agritourism is how small farms can keep their farms in this day of large corporate-owned farms.”
Like Matt Moreland at Red Barn Ranch, Johnson and her staff are committed to providing a place for visitors to experience the farm life.
“We educate people about what it takes to grow things, whether it’s pumpkins or corn,” Johnson said. “We have a staff of 60 knowledgeable people with the experience to answer these questions.”
For more information, visit www.johnsonfarms.net.
Sylvia Bailey Park
On Saturdays and Sundays through the month of October, Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation hosts a variety of fall-themed events for friends and families at Sylvia Bailey Park. Kids of all ages can explore the 6-acre corn maze, climb the hay mountain, play in the corn box or take up pumpkin bowling. For those who like a little fright with their Halloween, the park’s Haunted Maze and Flashlight Fridays offer just the right spook ticket.
For more information, visit cityofls.net/Parks/Parks-Shelters-Trails/Parks/Sylvia-Bailey-Park.
On Saturday and Sundays in October, the Belton, Grandview and KC Railroad is transformed into the Pumpkin Express. Decorated for the season with smiling ghosts and other friendly Halloween characters, the train makes mid-ride stops for kids to play Halloween games and select pumpkins to take home.
For more information, visit kcrrm.org.
Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit brings fun to fall with a lineup of family oriented activities through the month of October. Harvest day events include daytime hayride with a campfire and s’mores, a petting zoo and pony rides.
For more information, visit www.paradise-park.com.