Thousands descended on Schilter Family Farm on Sunday to get a pumpkin — maybe more than one — and to participate in several activities on the 180-acre farm near Interstate 5 in Nisqually.
The parking lot was jammed around noon, and visitors were scattered throughout the farm enjoying its harvest festival.
Aside from the main attraction — the pumpkin patch — the farm offers a petting zoo, a hay maze, hay bales to play on, a replica of Fort Nisqually for children, tractor-pulled rides, a playground, face painting, a country store, food and beverages, and pony rides. A pumpkin blaster and corn cannon fired both objects across a field.
All of that adds up to some impressive numbers, said Stephanie Schilter, co-owner and operator of the farm:
Visitors: 2,000 to 4,000 a day.
Employees: 10 to 15 during the week and 60 on weekends.
Acreage: 30 acres for pumpkins, 30 acres for Christmas trees, with the rest of the farm divided among berries, corn, other row crops and pasture land.
Schilter Family Farm was started by current co-owner Jeff Schilter’s grandfather in 1938 and was run as a dairy farm until 1997, Stephanie Schilter said.
The pumpkin patch and harvest festival opened Sept. 28 and will run through Oct. 31. Business has been good, she said, because after the rainy weather in September, the weekends have been dry in October.
“It’s a blessing and a challenge all at the same time,” she said.
Sandy Marshall of Gig Harbor visited Sunday with her family. It’s not quite an annual tradition for them, she said, but they have visited the farm before.
Marshall praised the farm because it is so well-maintained and it’s a lot of fun for the children. They planned to get pumpkins, and they were enjoying doughnuts and kettle corn, she said.
“We’re eating our way around the farm,” Marshall said.
On the farm
Schilter Family Farm is just south of Interstate 5 at Exit 114. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Oct. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 31. Online: schilterfamilyfarm.com.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 email@example.com