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Jack is Back: October brings fall tradition back to Folsom

By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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The days have gotten shorter, the leaves have changed color and weather outside has turned cool and crisp. October is upon and along with the month that is a focal point of fall that comes with numerous activities surrounding a mysterious character named “Jack.” 

That’s right, from the abundant savory scent and flavors of pumpkin spice to preparing for spooky fun, the search for the perfect pumpkin is on and Folsom has its fair share of great ways to make your search for that perfect squash unique, including a local farm that has operated for decades, a unique train that takes treks to a secret pumpkin place in the heart of town and more.

 

PUMPKIN PATCHIN’

While Folsom continues to grow daily with more businesses, expanded roadways and development, the city remains home to a very traditional pumpkin patch right in the heart of town that has been family operated for more nearly 40 years. Zittel Farms is a local favorite and they have once again opened their gates for another season of good old-fashioned fun as families looking to find that perfect pumpkin somewhere besides sifting through the big cardboard boxes at the supermarkets.

Zittel Farms has been the go-to place for Folsom residents to find their perfect pumpkins and truly enjoy the experience of the mission. Whether it’s for baking or decorating, the family-owned ranch, that’s located at the corner of Oak Avenue and Folsom-Auburn Road, has plenty of varieties to offer, and their hometown hospitality is free for every visitor.

Upon arrival, visitors will find a quaint picturesque farm, complete with vintage tractors and a very vocal rooster that loves to greet visitors. The historical ranch offers one of the largest varieties of pumpkins in the area with all shapes, sizes and several colors. In addition to offering large thick stem pumpkins, they also offer several varieties of ornamental squash.

With harvest season now in full swing, Zittel Farms offers hay rides to visitors who desire to enjoy a bit of country fun right here in the city. Additionally, the farm is the perfect place to take photos of little ones with plenty of old-fashioned farm gear and equipment decorating the three-acre lot.

In 1976, Roger and Gail Zittel purchased the small farm shortly after making Folsom their home. With two sons, the family went to work on what is now one of the last working farms in Folsom.

“I came from a farming background,” said Roger, who worked as the very first manager of the Folsom Chamber of Commerce in 1974 and has been in numerous feature stories in the Folsom Telegraph. “This is my favorite time of year.”

For the Zittel family, operating the pumpkin patch is something they continue to do for the community of Folsom. Today, the venture is not to produce a sole source of income, but more of a hobby. Simply put, it’s a labor of love year after year.

“We do this as part of giving back to the community. It’s so important to give back. We like to share life with the community,” he said.

At the time the Zittles founded their special little farm in town, Folsom was small in size, home to not much more than agriculture, a prison and a whole of grazing cattle in the areas that are known today as some of the area’s most populated housing developments. While he invested in the family farm, he too invested in the promotion of the city that has grown so greatly around his family’s successful farm so many love today. 

Zittel’s pumpkin patch is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm can be reached at 916-989-2633 and is located at 6781 Oak Avenue in Folsom. More information can be found at zittlefarms.com.

 

Another Folsom tradition that returns this weekend is just on the other side of town and is a product of the Placer Sacramento Valley Rail Road. It’s known as the Pumpkin Flyer and it offers a great way to get your pumpkin hunt on track, literally. 

Visitors to this unique Folsom venue will have the opportunity to ride the tracks aboard a real railway motorcar. The train departs from the “Whistlestop,” at the corner of Oak Avenue Parkway and E. Bidwell Street.

Riders will enjoy the sights and smells of autumn as they travel down the pumpkin patch at Willow Springs. Kids get to pick out a free pumpkin before your family returns to the station. Pumpkins are available on a while supplies last basis, the venue also offers live music, light snacks and drinks, coloring books and cookie decorating every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.  

Motorcars depart the pumpkin patch every 20 minutes. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and children younger than four ride for free. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to psvrr.org. 

 

Pumpkin Fast Facts

A pumpkin is really a squash. It’s a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.

  • Six of the seven continents can grow pumpkins including Alaska! Antarctica is the only continent that they won't grow in.
  • The "pumpkin capital" of the world is Morton, Illinois. This self-proclaimed pumpkin capital is where you'll find the home of the Libby Corporation’s pumpkin industry.
  • The Irish brought this tradition of pumpkin carving to America. The tradition originally started with the carving of turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty and they were much easier to carve for their ancient holiday.
  • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made was larger than five feet in diameter and weighed more than 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12-dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
  • The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.
  • The Connecticut Field-variety is the traditional American pumpkin.
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats
  • Native Americans called pumpkins "isqoutm squash."
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.