The leaves are turning and there’s a crispness in the air that heralds the beginning of autumn, which means it’s time for sweaters, evening fires, and a trip to Bierwagen’s pumpkin patch and harvest festival!
For many local families, a trip to Bierwagen’s to pick out Halloween pumpkins kicks off the holiday season; a family tradition that continues year after year. “We have multigenerational families that keep coming back,” said Debbie Bierwagen, who runs the farm along with her husband Jim, daughter Rose, brother-in-law Chris, and others. “Just last weekend I saw a sixteen year old with a giant pumpkin who told me that he’s been coming here since he was very small and the rule was that he could get as big a pumpkin as he could carry, so his pumpkin gets bigger every year.”
The farm’s harvest festival, which takes place every day throughout the entire month of October, is much more than just a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. There are a lot of farm activities for the kids, including a play area where they can jump in straw and climb hay bales, visiting the farm animals, which include pettable goats, a long horn steer, a heifer, turkeys, and more. There is also a corn crib instead of a sand box that kids love to play in. “It’s a real tactile thing for the kids to play with, but the best part is that they are free to run for a little bit; it’s amazing how much the kids love it,” Bierwagen said.
Adults enjoy the harvest festival, as well, with the u-pick apple orchard where whatever is picked is only $1/pound. There is also a snack shack where you can get fresh, homemade food including their famous apple fritter nuggets and freshly pressed cider.
Last year the family started to offer wagon ride farm tours for only $3/person or $10 for a family. The Bierwagens started these due to popular demand from the public. The tour takes guests into parts of the farm that are usually behind gates and hidden from the road by hills.
The farm also hosts school tours for students in Nevada and Placer counties, but those are already fully booked for the season.
Bierwagens is open every day in October, Monday-Friday noon-5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The harvest festival brings about 40,000 people through the farm every year, and Sundays seem to be the day that families come to slow down and really enjoy the day together. “Saturdays the families come in a hurry, squeezing in a trip to the pumpkin patch between soccer and errands,” Bierwagen said. “It feels like America has left Sunday as a family day to be slower paced; people come and spend the day here enjoying each other’s company.”
Bierwagens is located in Chicago Park at 17437 Lower Colfax Rd. To learn more about the harvest festival or farm, visit www.bierwagensfarm.com.