Pumpkins, apples and donuts all part of fall fun

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-mXmdIuRDkj.jpg’, ‘Photo by Melissa Wangall’, ‘Edward’s Apple Orchard West, 8218 Cemetery Rd., Winnebago, is famous locally for its cider donuts and quaint atmosphere.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-6h0xyRBHlG.jpg’, ‘Photo by Melissa Wangall’, ‘The Pumpkin Patch, 3178 Rte. 173, Caledonia, is known for its family-friendly environment and colorful atmosphere.’);

By Melissa Wangall

Contributing Writer

During the past week, I have had the pleasure of visiting three Rockford-area attractions. Each contained classic fall favorites, such as apples, pumpkins, cider, and wagon rides, but each also brought their own special touch to the mix.

First on the list was Curran’s Orchard, a not-too-well-known place located at 6385 Kilburn Ave., Rockford.

Curran’s is the place to go if you’re looking for all-natural products. Owner Patrick Curran sprays his farm-grown apples with one-tenth of the recommended amount of pesticides. His cider is produced from these apples with no water or preservatives added, and is also non-pasteurized. His all-natural honey is just that.

Curran’s store contains an actual beehive, partitioned by plastic for a good view, where honey is collected for sale. Also known for his famous “Awesome Apple Donuts,” named for the exclamations of “awesome” by first-time samplers. These tasty treats contain actual pieces of apple baked inside. Curran always sells these in a baker’s dozen, and meets demands for orders from people as far away as Minnesota. Curran’s also offers 1-pound caramel apples, made from his own secret recipe.

Another better-known area to call on would be Edwards’ Apple Orchard West, situated in Winnebago at 8218 Cemetery Rd.

Also famous for its own cider donuts, Edwards’ West brings a touch of quaintness to visitors. The walls of the barn that houses apples, donuts, and fresh-squeezed cider, which is sanitized with ultraviolet ray technology, are decorated with actual antique farm equipment. It’s fun to examine these antiquities of farm life while in the comfortable pastoral setting that Edwards’ West provides. Small trikes and play equipment are available for children.

Another nice aspect of Edwards’ West is it is not as busy as their joint operation— Edwards’ in Poplar Grove. This makes for clearer walkways and easier control of the kids.

If you do make it out to one of these two Edwards’ orchards, be sure to try their cider “slushies.” These new concoctions are absolutely delicious. They have the rich flavor of homemade cider and the cool relief of smooth ice.

Another great scene to visit is The Pumpkin Patch, which can be found at 3178 Rte. 173 in Caledonia.

The Pumpkin Patch brings all the best of Halloween to one very kid-friendly environment. There is a haunted house free of spooks that jump out at little ones. There is a spring-loaded pumpkin launch as well as wooden cutouts, which make perfect photo opportunities for families. Also available are inflatable jumping jamborees, slides, and balloon-filled encasements, all a thrill for the kids.

On the weekends, even more entertainment is provided with costumed characters walking around amusing children and adults alike. 97ZOK’s Chuck Doyle has also been known to bring entertainment to this area. The Pumpkin Patch also supplies Halloween costumes and decorations.

The Pumpkin Patch features a 7-acre corn maze with different designs cut from the stalks each year. Another very nice point of issue of the Patch is its petting zoo. The aforementioned orchards also had petting zoos, but the only interaction between animal and person was a handful of grain. At the Pumpkin Patch, people are allowed into certain cages to pet and feed the livestock.

There is some loss of naturalness in this setting. The Pumpkin Patch’s apples, as well as their cider, are ordered in. But the entertainment value provided lets this slide.

These local proprietorships are ones to visit to fully enhance the fall-time fun that so many of us enjoy. With the scent of apple cinnamon in the air, friendly service, and plenty to look at, these places are all worth a visit.

More info: Curran’s Apple Farm, (815)-963-7848 or www.curransorchard.com; Edwards’ Apple Orchard West, (815)-963- 2261; and The Pumpkin Patch, (815)-765-2587 or www.thegreatpumpkinpatch.com.

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