While social distancing and other measures may have squashed everyone’s trick-or-treat plans in 2020, another spooky season tradition has stepped up in its place. Carving or painting jack-o-lanterns is the perfect fall alternative to trick-or-treating, and there’s nothing sweeter than taking family and friends along to pick out a Great Pumpkin in a pumpkin patch. (Bonus points if your kid takes their blanket on an adventure in the pumpkin patch, Peanuts-style.)

Check out these ten pumpkin patches around Abilene and the Big Country to find your next gourd-eous Jack-o-lantern.

10 Gourd-eous Pumpkin Patches in the Abilene Area

The tradition of carving Jack-o-lanterns was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants who originally celebrated Samhain, a predecessor to modern Halloween celebrations. Different versions of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving also depict a large grinning pumpkin head atop the infamous Headless Horseman’s body.

Nowadays, you’ll see pumpkins featured heavily in Halloween and Thanksgiving decor across the U.S. “Real” pumpkins usually ripen and are ready for harvest in the middle of the fall season, which means picking out your pumpkins early is your best bet. The easiest way to tell if a pumpkin is ripe is to apply pressure to the outside rind with the pad of your finger. If your finger mushes into the flesh of the pumpkin, it’s not ripe.

It goes without saying that pumpkin-carving with knives or other sharp tools can be dangerous, which is why kids should always have an adult present. It’s even easy for adults to be injured in the process of carving a ghoulish grin, so be careful. Better yet, kid-friendly “no-knife” pumpkin decorations kits can be found at most big box and variety stores.

And if you prefer a more fine-art approach to your pumpkins, you can always opt to use acrylic paint and channel your inner Picasso. This way, the pumpkin lasts longer from the inside out, and you can leave it on your doorstep until Christmas.

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