By Ben Olson
If Linus’ “Great Pumpkin” from the Peanuts comic strip were to appear anywhere in North Idaho, I’ll wager it would be the Hickey Farms pumpkin patch. This family farm, owned and operated by the Holt family since 1923, opens its doors every weekend in October for a month-long Harvest Festival, starting Saturday, Oct. 2 and running all the way until Saturday, Oct. 30.
Back for its 10th year, the Harvest Fest is where you want to be in October. There is a u-pick pumpkin patch; food and drink vendors; kids’ activities; live music; more than 70 varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squash; plus a local store selling candles, honey and other local goods.
Hours of operation for the Harvest Fest are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in October; but, this year, Hickey Farms is offering two extra days each week on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-5:30 p.m.
“These weekdays are a little more low key,” co-owner Dean Holt told the Reader. “Some people don’t want to come out when there’s a thousand people here, so we thought we’d offer a couple more days for them.”
The weekdays will not have live music or full vendors like weekends, but all other services will be offered.
Live music is scheduled every Saturday and Sunday from noon-3 p.m. — see the music schedule accompanying this article for a full list of performers. In addition to music, Sandpoint’s own Star the Magician will put on a couple of magic shows for the kids.
Speaking of kids, there are a plethora of activities to bring smiles to their faces.
“There’s a corn maze, a 16-foot slide in the corn maze, bouncy castles,” said Holt. “We have a wiggle worm ride that’s a pull-behind ride for little kids. There’s a hay pyramid, giant Connect 4 and Tic Tac Toe boards. We also have two birthday party areas for families, which includes passes to use the corn maze and bouncy castles.”
The Harvest Festival has largely stayed the same over the past decade, but Holt said each year they add something new to keep things fresh. This year the venue has relocated to a different 8,600-square-foot location built on the north side of the farm, which allows for more food and drink vendors. They also added a nice patio to enjoy the sunny fall days ahead.
To reach Hickey Farms from Sandpoint, take Highway 200 east for 5.7 miles and take a left on Hickey Road, then follow the signs for parking. From Hope and Clark Fork, take Highway 200 west and turn right on Hickey Road a half mile after Colburn Culver Rd. and follow the signs.
Holt said the most difficult task in preparing for the annual festival is timing the pumpkin harvest just right.
“We really rely on Mother Nature,” he said. “I always say, ‘You go farming, you don’t go growing.’ Just because you put it in the ground doesn’t mean it’ll happen. I think the hardest thing we physically do is harvesting the pumpkins.”
Holt said the farm plants over 20,000 seeds each year, which grow into scores of different varieties of pumpkins and gourds. The sizes range from small decorative pumpkins that fit in your hand to massive 35-pounders.
For Holt and his siblings who run the farm, connection to the community is what Hickey Farms is all about.
“That’s our whole mission,” Holt said. “We want to become a place where the community can enjoy themselves. We really want to involve the community because it wouldn’t be here without them. We’re fortunate, my brothers and sister are fourth generation and we want to be very active in this community and give people something to be proud of.”
It’s always free to enter Hickey Farms, but to take part in activities, there is a fee to participate. Check the Hickey Farms’ Facebook page for more details about the month-long festival.
Live music at Hickey Farms – all shows 12-3 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
Sat. Oct. 2 — Harold’s IGA
Sun. Oct. 3 — Magic by Star the Magician with a free magic show at 1 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 9 — Music by Red Blend
Sun. Oct. 10 — Music by Chris Lynch and Lauren Kershner
Sat. Oct. 16 — Music by The Other White Meat
Sun. Oct. 17 — Magic by Star the Magician with a free magic show at 1 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 23 — Music by Brian Jacobs
Sun. Oct. 24 — Music by Drew & Sammy
Sat. Oct. 30 — Crosstoberfest Bike Race with Pend Oreille Pedalers
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