BY DEB, TIM & SKYLER SMITH
If you’re looking for some awesome autumnal activities, may we suggest the palatial perfection of the Pumpkin Palace. A landmark location that would probably click in the minds of many would be to say that it’s located on the same property as the Apple Farm in Victor.
The address is 1640 State Route 444. Obviously you could GPS it but here are our general directions so you can keep reading the article. If you were coming from the Mendon-Honeoye Falls area you would head out of town on Boughton-Hill Road and take it all the way to the intersection with Route 444 at the spot which is literally the Boughton Hill after which the road is named.
When you come upon Ganondagan, the Native American Historical Site, you’re almost there. Turn right at the light and the Pumpkin Palace is just down the road on the right.
The Pumpkin Palace is the passion of Ryan and Kim Duvall. They are a couple with an interesting backstory which we will share with you in a moment. But first let’s hit the highlights of the “Palace” they have created. While there are some common sense Covid-19 restrictions in place there are still more ways to have fun than a pumpkin has seeds.
The Pumpkin Palace is open on Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 6pm. The pumpkin stand is open every day and if you stop by during off-hours, the hay pyramids and teepees are always open.
As soon as you enter the complex by driving under the ramparts of the craftily constructed castle that adorns the entrance, you become aware that you are embarking upon a splendiferous sojourn.
There’s so much to take in it’s hard to know where to start.
We’ve been to pumpkin patches before but never anything quite like this. Ryan and Kim Duvall along with a tight-knit group of family and friends have creatively clustered an amazing array of displays showcasing the multiple range of activities available at the Pumpkin Palace. There’s so much to take in that some people literally spend the entire day there.
With so many family activity options compromised by Covid-19, the allure of this attraction is actually enhanced. It’s all outdoors and conducive to social distancing. For one affordable fee you can stay and take advantage of the activities, which we’ll describe next, for as long as you want.
The Number One attraction is the hayrides; nobody misses out on those. The hayrides are unlimited with the price of admission, so if you were to start and end your Pumpkin Palace promenade with hayrides here’s the list of what you can do in between.
After your ride is over, the following on-site activities are there to be enjoyed.
- Pony Rides
- Farm Animal Exhibit (No petting zoo allowed per NYS restriction)
- Corn Tee Pee
- Giant Hay Bale Pyramid
- Mini Hay Bale Pyramid (ages 3 and under)
- Apple Sling Shot (Hit the bullseye to win a jumbo pumpkin) Skyler walked away from this one unable to stop repeating the phrase, “It’s so addictive.”
In order to let the games begin you must avail yourself of one of the two admission options. For $5 an orange wristband will offer you unlimited hayrides. The green wristband is probably the one to go with. For $15 you are blessed with unlimited participation in all events.
They also have the most amazing selection of pumpkins, ornamentals and fall décor and they’re known in particular for having the most unique pumpkins around. They grow a majority of their pumpkins and produce, and anything they don’t grow is brought in from local farms.
We had read about the Pumpkin Palace before visiting and if we had to pick one example of the concept that sometimes you have to see something to truly appreciate it, we would pick the line “amazing selection of pumpkins.” This place is like going to a pumpkin museum. Let us share with you some of the highlights we noticed as we walked through the buffet of pumpkins, gourds and squash.
Whatever your favorite color might be, they have a vegetable in your shade. In addition to every color in the rainbow they also have black and white covered. We’d seen white pumpkins before but we’d never seen one that was solid black. We thought that black and orange pumpkins, side-by-side, would make for a great Halloween display.
Here are some other favorites … the “warty goblins” are the ones that have all the funky little bumps and growths but again, we’d never seen any funkier than these. The “Cinderella” pumpkins are the ones that have a flatter pancake shape. These afford the display option of stack-ability.
They have “Atlantic giants” that weigh 150 pounds. Our award for “weirdest looking” would go to the “snake” gourds which are displayed in a bin where they look like a nest of snakes. They are about 4-feet long and each grows in the shape of an erratic coil.
We’ll close this segment with our award for “best name.” This went to a type of pumpkin that for all the world looks like a bloodshot eye with veins of color running through the orb. These are called “one too many” pumpkins, playing upon the theme that the bloodshot eyes are from having too much to drink.
The Pumpkin Palace supports local businesses and allows vendors to set up a tent or table for free to promote their businesses. Vendors keep all the money they make and a wide variety of merchandise is offered ranging from crafts and wreaths to wine glasses and fresh local honey.
The Apple Farm is open as well, operating out of a temporary store at the top of the hill. They have apple picking, donuts, cider and other goodies.
We asked Ryan and Kim about any funny stories transpiring at the Pumpkin Palace. They had lots of them so we’ll pick our favorite two to share with you. At this point we’ll put the microphone, or more accurately the pen, in Kim’s hand and let her tell the stories.
STORY #1 ~ Last year on opening day we realized we needed to add something to help control parking in a certain area. I asked my husband to get some spray paint and spray paint “No Parking” in the designated area.
In a rush he grabbed bright orange spray paint and wrote on the driveway “No Paking” by accident.
We frantically tried to fix it or remove it but it wouldn’t come off. He then changed the lower case “k” to an upper case “R” and smiled at me like this was better. It now read “No PaRing.”
I looked at him and said, honey that still doesn’t say No parking. He said, “I know but it’s kinda closer right?”
Needless to say we had to cone that area off.
STORY #2 ~ On our last Sunday before Halloween I encouraged the staff to dress up for fun if they wanted to. When my parking attendants showed up to work (there were 3 of them) they had decided to dress up as the “poop” emoji.
All 3 were dressed as “poop.” I didn’t know what to do. They were good employees so I didn’t want to send them home, especially on our last day together, So, I had three pieces of “poop” directing traffic for the day.
We’ll close with some personal background on the Duvalls and how this whole Pumpkin Palace concept became a reality. Some of you may recall that the Apple Farm was the victim of a devastating fire on November 4, 2016. The Duvalls were friends with the owners of the Apple Farm and helped them rebuild the business which had been a fall tradition to many families in the area.
Then in 2019 they came up with the idea of the Pumpkin Palace. So if you’re wondering why you might never have heard of it, that could be the reason why. They are only in their second year of operation. For the record they are totally handicapped accessible. Discounts are also provided for people in service occupations such as policemen, firemen and the military.
If you’re looking for a uniquely fun family activity or a seasonally romantic date we highly recommend the Pumpkin Palace. If you’re thinking that the notion of doing something like this on a date is a quirky idea, then we have to tell you how we found out about it.
We were sitting at our computers one Saturday afternoon when the phone rang. It was our good friends the Friels, (former Miss USA) Mary Therese and Kent. They own and operate a modeling agency as well as hosting a local radio show and they were calling to tell us that we work too hard, needed to go out on a date, and they had the perfect idea.
They were just completing their second date in two weeks and of course you can see where this is going. It’s going to the Pumpkin Palace of course, soon to be known as the Date Capital of Western New York.