First posted on 09-17-2013
Numerous pumpkin patches open to the public in October, but check out the one at Arkansas Frontier for an option that is traditional with a twist. At this attraction in Quitman, experience time amongst the great orange gourds – along with an Enchanted Forest, a Pizza Patch, and the farm life of early settlers of the American Frontier.
The initiative of the Pizza Patch is to take children through the supply chain of agriculture. “That’s really a different experience for them,” Arkansas Frontier Owner Brent Johnson explains. “A lot of kids don’t understand where their food comes from. They see things come out of a can or it appears on the table at a restaurant.”
At Arkansas Frontier, kids can see pizza ingredients such as tomatoes and peppers growing in the garden. “We take them through the whole process of what it looks like coming from the ground and what it takes to make the pizza,” says Johnson.
Additionally, the Pumpkin Patch fields are open for people to stroll and pick a pumpkin, or visitors can choose from harvested selections. While typical pumpkin patch activities such as hayrides are also offered, less traditional fall fun includes dinosaurs, ducks, Enchanted Forests, and trains.
Children ages two through 10 can dig for dinosaur eggs and figurines. They identify the ancient reptiles they find and take them home. Duck races via hand pumping water are a competition open to any age.
A walk through the Enchanted Forest lets visitors meet and greet characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Gingerbread boy, and more. This is also where the wild things are – deer, squirrels, raccoons, birds, turtles, and frogs.
Younger children (ages 2-5) can enjoy a train ride around the farm on Saturdays. Be sure to check the schedule for the best time to climb aboard.
The Pizza Patch is open Sept. 16-30 and the Pumpkin Patch from Oct. 1-31. Arkansas Frontier is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays in October for Family Days. Otherwise, call for reservations whether you are a family of four or group of 30.
Though autumn attractions are the biggest draw, Arkansas Frontier is open year-round by appointment. More than just a vegetable patch, the facility is focused on recreating the lifestyle and agriculture of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
“We create an interactive experience with people and help them get involved and see the daily life perspective,” Johnson says.
Visitors to Arkansas Frontier can walk through a pioneer homestead that dates back to the 1910s. They can grind corn with period tools to discover what processing was like before manufacturing came along. The Frontier also shows how families made a living farming and the role of each family member on a farm.
“We have a cow that the children can milk,” Johnson explains. “It’s not a real cow but they can get an idea of what that would have been like.” Other hands-on activities include washing dishes, scrubbing laundry on a wash board, and caring for animals. “Obviously that was a huge part, so they get to interact with animals that would have been on the farm at that time period.”
A program at the facility’s schoolhouse details how education has changed since the 19th century, and the importance of the schoolhouse itself within the community. Developments in transportation over time are addressed with a covered wagon on the property.
“We also have the Native American village,” Johnson says. “The lifestyle between 1850 and 1900 is what we feature. We talk about their culture and obstacles they would have had at that time.”
An exhibit at Arkansas Frontier shows a period from the 1930s to 1950s – an era when agriculture dwindled in the area and other industries such as mining became prominent. “We have a mining activity,” Johnson says. “They kind of get the experience of what mining would have been like.”
Arkansas Frontier is located about 32 miles north of Conway, off Highway 225 near Greers Ferry Lake. For more information, call 501-589-3122 or visit ArkansasFrontier.com.
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