Now entering its third year, the Pumpkin Patch Festival in Mizner Park has become the go-to event for families in Boca Raton to experience the best of autumn without having to stray too far from home.
The Boca iteration of the festival is a spin-off of the nationally recognized Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival, and both events are the brainchild of founder Vanessa Goodis. The idea was born when Goodis decided she wanted to capture the feeling of her favorite season for families in South Florida who otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience it.
“I’ve always loved the season of fall, but being a South Florida native, we don’t really get to have that magical experience that everyone gets to have up north,” she said. “About 10 years ago, I had an idea to build a festival that would give South Florida families the feeling of the season.”
Goodis founded the Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival a decade ago, and the event was more successful than she could have imagined. The first year of the festival drew thousands of families, and eventually received national recognition as one of the best fall festivals in the country.
“I realized, wow, we really are filling a wonderful niche for families just like my own that are looking for something fun to do in the fall season,” she said of the festival’s smash-hit first year.
In 2016, after years of success with the Coconut Grove festival, Goodis knew that the next step was to bring the event north to Boca.
Now in its third year, the Boca Raton Pumpkin Patch Festival is held at the Mizner Park Amphitheater, in the heart of downtown Boca. The event takes over the amphitheater grounds and the adjacent grass lot, transforming the space into an immersive fall haven, complete with bales of hay, scarecrows, a kiddie cornstalk maze, and hundreds of pumpkins.
The festival’s organizers wanted to make sure that families get plenty of bang for their buck, packing as many activities into the grounds as possible. The event is built to entertain patrons of all ages, with offerings that range from pumpkin-inspired cocktails and beer to miniature carnival rides for young attendees.
The festival certainly doesn’t skimp on its theme, as more than 2,500 pumpkins will cover the Mizner Park Amphitheater’s event grounds during the event. For an additional fee, attendees can pick out their favorite pumpkin to bring home, and can even stop by the pumpkin decorating tent to spruce up their selection.
The festival also features a pumpkin food court, face painting, and plenty of carnival rides. The rides, which are included with the price of admission, include a pirate ship swing, bumper cars, a carousel, and a fair slide. Smaller versions of the carnival rides that will be available for younger attendees include a mini ferris wheel and a tiny pirate ship.
For all the effort Goodis has put into bringing the feeling of fall to families in South Florida, she realizes that there are some aspects of the season that just can’t be replicated.
“No matter how hard we try to make it look like fall, it’s still South Florida. We all still need to drink water and wear sunscreen.”
Boca Pumpkin Patch Festival, October 19th & 20th, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL, 33432; admission $20 for attendees age two and up. www.bocapumpkinpatch.com
When purchasing advance pre-sale tickets online through Monday, October 14th, Boca magazine readers can save 30% when using the code FALL30 at checkout.