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Picking perfect pumpkins with purpose

One of the first things that comes to mind when the autumn season is mentioned are pumpkins. Images of the large gourd can be found on decor, clothing, coffee cups and the label of limited edition products flavored with pumpkin or pumpkin spices as early as August. Then, when school begins and the temperature begins to get milder, the countryside will soon be speckled with the familiar orange fruit.

Pumpkins may appear boring as they sit on a bail of hay or displayed among a cornucopia, but a lot of family fun can surround these gorgeous gords. When I was a child growing up in Snyder County I always loved going with my parents to Weaver’s Farm Market to pick out pumpkins for our annual carving of the jack-o’-lanterns. One of the reasons it was so much fun for me was, like an adult who was looking over a vehicle to purchase, I got to inspect each pumpkin by myself. Then after careful consideration I was allowed to choose any one I wanted. It may seem like a small thing now, but when I was 6, that was a big deal!

The pumpkin selection process as been taken to new levels with fall festivals, special farm events and pumpkin patches. If the later had been in my area growing up, young Brad would have went bananas. Actually, maybe they were in my area and my mother didn’t take me there for that very reason. Either way, the thought of being able to walk around a pumpkin patch and pick a pumpkin straight from the field is fun for young and old alike. With festivals and special events, you may get a chance to not only find the perfect pumpkin, but take a hayride, walk through a corn maze, or other fun fall-related activities.

The fun doesn’t have to stop when you get your pumpkin home. Some of the pumpkins can be used just for decoration and others can be carved into jack-o’-lanterns. Like the places to choose a pumpkin, the ways to carve and decorate jack-o’-lanterns has grown.

Sure the classic triangle eyes and grinning smile with few teeth seems to still be the norm. But, a plethora or decorating and carving ideas can be found online or in magazines. Intricate patterns to follow are available to be printed out or purchased in a booklet. Sitting down with your family with some construction paper to create your own stencils may also be a fun.

Once the jack-o’-lanterns are complete and placed you may think your pumpkin-themed family fun is over, but it’s not! All the seeds that you had scooped out of the pumpkins earlier can be made into a snack. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and seasoned many different ways. The pumpkin seeds snack can be enjoyed while watching a spooky movie or playing your family’s favorite board game.

So don’t just look at the pumpkin, take advantage of the pumpkin’s possibilities and have a safe and family fun filled fall.

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Bradley Kreitzer is a photographer and business reporter for the Lewistown Sentinel and a correspondent for Juniata Valley Family.