Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch
14003 N Harmony Ln
Opdyke, IL 62872
Hours: September 21st- October 31st, Mon.- Sat. 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sun. 12- 6 p.m.
In 1998, Timothy and Tracy Marlow set out 30 pumpkins on hay bales at the end of their driveway next to a pringles can to collect the money. The second year, they grew 300 pumpkins and customers placed their payment in the mailbox. Since then, Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch has exponentially grown and added several new aspects to their farm today. The business was started to teach their daughters Erica and Emily about money handling. Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch is 100% ran by the Marlow family, their daughters, parents, and relatives. Today, they see between 10,000- 15,000 people at the patch each season. Starting small, Marlow’s has added many new activities over the years including an adult and toddler’s corn maze, hayride, a haunted barn, playground, toddler play area, animals, mini golf, and a silo slide.
The massive Silo Slide was added in 2017. “The silo was off my grandmother’s farm. We had it taken down and reconstructed out here," owner Timothy Marlow explains. Kids and adults alike have a blast climbing up the inside of the silo tower and sliding down the tube. It has become a centerpiece of Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch and is one of the first things you see driving up to the farm. The hayride is one of most popular attractions at Marlow’s and can often have a waiting line. It started as a traditional hayride through the property with only a few decorations. Each year, the family has painted characters and placed them along the hayride route for spectators to enjoy. Timothy’s father paints the characters in the farm’s off-season as his retirement hobby. The hayride includes dozens of well-known characters such as Fred Flintstone, ghosts, several Disney characters, superheroes, and more.
Operating the hayride, daughter Emily Marlow has the opportunity to talk to families and learn where visitors travel from. Although most are fairly local, she says they have had travelers from Chicago, Ohio, and even Texas come visit the patch. Some have family in the area. For others Mt. Vernon is a great meeting place in the middle of two locations. Many have found Marlow’s on Facebook, looking for a unique pumpkin patch to visit!
Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch, “Patch Pals” program is ran by relative Mary Goins and provides fall classes for children that incorporate a different story, craft, and activity each week. Cost is $10 per session for child and caregiver. “We want to have a great experience for families out here and have something for people to do with their kids that’s affordable," Emily comments. Several schools bring children to Marlow’s for field trips during the day. Packages for field trips include different activities at the patch such as the haunted barn or hayride and an optional educational talk. Besides school classes, Marlow’s has hosted church groups, birthday parties, and would be happy to host your group, too! You can call the number at the top of the blog to reserve your date for this season.
In their 10 month “off season”, the Marlows still work hard to clean up the patch, paint new hayride characters, and brainstorm new activities to add for the next year. Pumpkins are planted in June for the next season. Not surprisingly, the classic Jack O Lantern pumpkin is the most purchased item at Marlow’s. Many pumpkins are bought for business decorations and weddings. Besides your favorite pumpkin variety, you can also find gourds, squash, straw, mums, and corn stalks available for purchase.
This is the 7th year Marlow’s has hosted vendor fairs at their property. “I have some awesome vendors this year. Everything from jewelry to wooden signs. It’s neat to see all the handmade items people bring out," Emily explains. Around 40 vendors are signed up for Marlow’s opening Fall Fest weekend Saturday, September 21st from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Sunday the 22nd from 12- 6 p.m. Save the date for October 19th and 20th, as Marlow’s host their second and final vendor fair of the season with a new Christmas theme! Billy Bob’s BBQ offers delicious food every weekend at Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch. Kettle corn, sno cones, and cotton candy are also available most every weekend. Marlow’s hopes to continue to expand each season with new activities and events.
For Timothy, the most rewarding part of owning Marlow’s is seeing his kids grow up on the farm and take part by helping out with the business and seeing other families have fun. “We try to keep it very family oriented out here. I want a family to come out and have a good time, but I want them to buy a pumpkin, take back and do an activity with their kids," he remarks. For Emily, seeing children make connections with agriculture by observing animals and learning how produce grows is a rewarding experience for her. Overall, the most difficult aspect of owning a pumpkin patch is having to constantly depend on the weather. Disease, insects, and weather all play a part in how the pumpkin crop turns out each season.
Drive the family to Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch this fall season to find beautiful, locally grown pumpkins, and enjoy a day of festivities together. Make memories running though the corn maze, being spooked in the haunted barn, and relaxing on a hayride. Marlow’s is a treat for the entire family!