It’s all about apples this month as Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard kicked off its opening weekend Friday with its Honeycrisp Festival.

New this year, the event offers apple-themed crafts and entertainment alongside many apple-based foods through Sunday.

“This year we had a really big increase in production,” said Tim Vala, who owns the pumpkin patch with his wife Jan and their family. “Honeycrisp are a real early apple and we want people to know that they’re available.”

Focusing in on the newer apple orchard, the pumpkin patch features a new Orchard Play Yard, which houses many apple-themed games alongside a straw bale hoist and tractor pull. The play yard is located near where hayrack rides depart to the apple orchard.

“We’ve been known for our pumpkins for 35 years,” Vala said. “We’re not known for apples at this point but the people last year really liked it. I think it’ll get more and more popular.”

Those interested can keep up with the picking schedule for the more than 30 varieties of apples offered at Vala’s on the business’s website.

Season passes have become more popular at Vala’s as each year brings more and more to do.

“It just makes sense to come out in September and do apples and then in October to do pumpkins,” Vala said.

This year’s smaller additions include a hand-washing station near the Petting Corral. Bathrooms replaced portable toilets near the Town Square Stage.

Two giant swings provide a new photo opportunity, as does a field of sunflowers located near the Orchard Play Yard and Candy Cannon.

Rapunzel has joined the Storybook Barn and the Hansel and Gretel witch’s cottage got a new look.

Smaller updates in landscaping and signage also help keep the farm up to date.

Hard surface walkways were also installed near the entrance with plans to expand upon the walkway in the next few years.

“We appreciate our loyal customers,” Vala said. “It’s really gratifying to see multiple generations here. The kids who came out 30 years ago now have kids of their own and it’s really neat to see that. It keeps us motivated to continue to improve.”

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