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Local couple creates fun fall venue for families seeking pumpkins

Colby Fetsch, 3, laughs as he sits in a barrel pulled by Point Paradise Stables' Kristen Vetter. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald1 / 5
Santos Zenteno, 4, flies down the super slide at the Patch on the Point pumpkin patch in East Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 5
Many varieties of pumpkins and other gourds are for sale at the Patch on the Point pumpkin patch in East Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 5
Kristen Vetter shows off the many varieties of pumpkins for sale at Patch on the Point, a pumpkin patch and outdoor recreation area at Point Paradise Stables in rural East Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald4 / 5
Kristen Vetter of Point Paradise Stables pulls pre-school students from Fisher, Minn., behind a tractor Thursday morning. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald5 / 5

Kristen and Clayton Vetter are redefining the term, "pumpkin patch "—and proving it can be so much more than a spot to pick the perfect big orange orb for carving and Halloween decorating.

The rural East Grand Forks couple opened "The Patch on the Point" last month on the summer pasture of their horse farm, Point Paradise Stables.

They're offering a family-friendly outdoor adventure with pony rides, a "corn sandbox" and other activities and yard games created especially to entertain and delight children.

"We really wanted to bring the community together," Kristen Vetter said. "The community has been so good to us."

Each weekend, the Patch focuses on a theme. Saturday will be "kind of a carnival day," she said, featuring a magician, "Mr. Magico," with shows at 2 and 5 p.m.; "Face Painting by Jolin" from 3 to 5 p.m.; and hula hoopers.

The Polk County 4H Drill Team's "Music in Motion" show, along with family yoga, is set for Oct. 13; "The Nature Connection" is set for Oct. 20; and "Mutton Bustin' with Wojo Rodeo" is set for Oct. 27.

The idea for the Patch grew out of the Vetters' interest in adding pony rides to their home-based business.

For the past 10 years, they've been giving horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides at events such as weddings, birthday parties, company picnics and special events at Heritage Village in East Grand Forks.

In the wintertime, they provide horse-drawn sleigh and carriage rides at the Grand Forks Park District's Santa Village on the grounds of Lincoln Park.

That insight guided planning for the Patch, which has evolved into a sort of natural amusement park that gives children up-close exposure to horses, pigs, rabbits, chickens and "very friendly calves and goats—they come right up to the fence," Vetter said.

When she and her husband began to consider features to include in The Patch on the Point, their daughters, Vienna, 8, and Karen, 6, provided the inspiration, Vetter said. "We thought about what would be good for them."

Some features they created themselves; others came about by bartering or borrowing.

They borrowed a makeshift "train" from Danny Wilkens of Fertile, Minn. It's made of 55-gallon plastic barrels, coupled together and pulled by a lawnmower.

At the edge of the property, a "super slide," which features a dump-truck liner affixed to an elevated wooden ramp, extends 100 feet down the dike.

Community support

Many hands have made this project possible, Vetter said. "People have been amazing."

The Blue Moose restaurant donated Corn Hole games and Chris Adams, of Adams Farms, donated the grain bin ring to contain 500 bushels of corn for the "corn box."

Members of UND's Pi Beta Phi sorority serve as volunteers at the events, she said. "They've been wonderful. I don't know what I would've done without them."

Local Cub Scouts helped to set up at the Patch.

Others have volunteered to help promote kids' interest in animals.

Megan Beiswinger, of Fisher, Minn., brings baby goats; Frederick Farms Alpaca in rural Northwood, N.D., provides alpacas; and Heather Vanyo of Northwood is supplying ducks, chickens and rabbits.

Kris Tolman, Bemidji, who will present a raptor show with owls and hawks Oct. 20, as part of "The Nature Connection." During the Oct. 27 "Mutton Bustin' with Wojo Rodeos," kids can ride sheep in a contest to see who can stay on the longest, she said. The winner receives a "Mutton Bustin' Champion" belt buckle.

Picking pumpkins, of course, is a key attraction. At the Patch, visitors will find a massive display of a huge variety of the favored fall vegetable.

"Four farms—all local growers—have grown pumpkins for us," Vetter said. "We've handpicked and purchased 60,000 pounds of pumpkins."

And, if all the outdoor activity stokes visitors' appetites, a food truck is on site to serve food and a variety of hot drinks, Vetter said.

"They've sold a lot of hot chocolate."

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