What the Broadway Market is to Easter, the Great Pumpkin Farm (11199 Main St., Clarence) is to Halloween. Every year, the farm celebrates the joys of autumn, which include hot cider, home-baked pies and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. This weekend, the farm plays host to "Oink-toberfest," with blues bands, barbecue and a barbecue and chili cook-off. The fun continues every weekend in October with hay rides, contests, petting zoos and tons of things to do. (Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to dusk on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5 and covers most activities. For more info, call 759-8483 or check out www.greatpumpkinfarm.org.)
What is life like out there on the land? We asked Katie Toth, the manager, to fill us in.
>Who thought up this weekend's slogan, "What happens at Oink stays at Oink"?
I did! (Laughs.) Well, I borrowed it. We have professional teams cooking for a barbecue competition. They're coming from all over the U.S. and Canada. It's interesting to watch what they're doing. Several are vending -- we'll sell sample-sized barbecue.
>I'm new at the festival. What should I do first?
One thing you want to try is shoot your own pumpkin cannon. We have a big cannon, but there is also a smaller version where you shoot at a target. You also definitely want to take a hay ride through woods in back. That's free with admission. Our magician, Mike Baron, does a really nice magic show. And the contests are a lot of fun -- the mummy wrapping, pumpkin decorating. It's really funny, the ideas people come up with.
We do a scarecrow-making contest every year. We put up 24 stakes, give everyone a bale of hay, a pile of clothes, and we judge what scarecrows people make. Two years ago, a family put a chair next to their stake, and they put the grandfather up there. He stood on the chair, he stretched out his arms, and they put clothes on him and stuffed him with hay. So they had a living scarecrow! It was hysterical.
>What's new this year?
We have a new corn maze this year. Our Gem Mining is also new. We have a whole new water tower with a sluice. And kids get to find gems and arrowheads in bags of dirt. I did a sample myself to see what was in there. The arrowhead bag had seven arrowheads. And there were two to four gems in the gem bags.
>That sounds like so much fun! Can I work there?
Sure! We always are looking for people to help in different areas -- helping out with store, where we sell decorations and gifts, and the bakery, where we make our own pies and cookies.
-- Mary Kunz Goldman