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Coach Bill Angelo
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Review: fall festival at Goebbert’s Farm in Pingree Grove

Goebbert’s Farm in Pingree Grove lies just 11 miles northwest of Elgin Community College. It offers a family-friendly fall festival which runs this year from Aug. 25 to Oct. 31. The fall festival includes tractor-pulled wagon rides to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard, a pumpkin-launching cannon, a pumpkin-eating animatronic dinosaur and a zoo among other things.

It costs $18 to enter the fall festival for adults and children over the age of two. Going as an individual, this was a relatively small amount of money to spend, though it would cost a family of four $72.

Upon entering, I stop to take in the atmosphere. The scent of farmland wafting through the air is complimented by chilly autumn temperatures. A mix of the sounds of children playing, tractor motors running and festive music playing create a distinct ambience. Goebbert’s trademark pumpkin head named Happy Jack sits atop the tall silo and towers over the farm.

Everything combines to create a certain midwestern autumn charm that is both comforting and nostalgic. I attended the fall festival here several times growing up, and it instantly took me back to that joy I felt being here as a child.

Pumpkin cannon

A couple with their two small children asks an employee working nearby if they are in the right spot to see the cannon.

The employee enthusiastically says, “want me to fire it up?”

I found myself excitedly yelling along with the children.

The employee blows into a loud horn to signal the cannon is about to go off. He starts a countdown and tension starts to build before the cannon finally goes off.

Two pumpkins shoot out of the cannon with a loud boom and are launched at least several hundred yards across the open farmland. They are quickly followed by a bale of hay that falls apart mid-air, which I assume is used to help ignite the cannon.

The pumpkin cannon is an exciting attraction at the fall festival for both adults and children. If you can make it there at one of the seven launch times throughout the day, I highly recommend it.

Tractor wagon ride

The employee who set off the cannon goes over to the nearby large wagon ride that is hitched up to a tractor. I decide to join the 30 or so people already in the wagon and see where it is going.

The employee announces we are first heading to the apple orchard and then to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. For an early Tuesday afternoon, I am surprised at how many adults are here with their small children.

The ride is about 3 minutes, with the tractor moving at around 10 miles per hour, which speaks to just how massive the farmland is. At one point I can even see my car in the parking area way off in the distance, looking about the size of an ant.

The ride itself is a very bumpy ride, which is to be expected given that we are going through unpaved farmland. That actually adds to the fun and makes the wagon ride an adventure of its own.

The wagon ride and the true midwestern experience of being pulled by a tractor is another thing at Goebbert’s that I find just as fun as when I was a child.

Apple orchard

We reach the apple orchard. The employee says to meet under a nearby tent to await apple-picking instructions. I am a bit confused; I have never been apple picking before, so I thought all you do is just yank them out of the trees.

The employee tells us to twist the apples three to four times before picking them, as this will help avoid damaging the trees. He then shows us two different-sized bags for collecting apples: small and large.

The small bags are $10, and the large bags are $19. You fill the bags with as many apples as will fit, and pay for them upon leaving the fall festival. This is a very convenient system for keeping track of how many apples you pick and how much you will pay for them.

There is a map that shows where to find the different types of apples. It also lists the specific times of season when each apple is harvested. By this point in mid-October, most of the varieties were being harvested, though a few varieties were only harvested in either late August, September, or late October.

It is surprising to see that there are 18 different types of apples in the orchard. The map says the orchard is 30 acres, again speaking for the massive size of the farmland.

I picked four early fuji apples and five gala apples, which were all easily able to fit in the small $10 bag I chose.

Apple-picking was a fun, new experience for me. I enjoyed learning about the many different types of apples and in which seasons they grow. Children and adults alike will find apple-picking enjoyable.

Corn maze

We all get back on the wagon with our bags of apples and head over to the pumpkin patch area, which also contains the corn maze.

I decide to challenge myself with the corn maze, so I enter and take many random turns before trying to find my way out.

Ten minutes go by where I am completely alone, before I finally reach another family who is letting their children lead the way. They let me join them.

It was a cool experience bonding with a group of strangers as we attempted to find our way out of the maze.

One of the children decides to forge his own path through the thick wall of cornstalks and we all follow him to find ourselves outside of the maze. I look to see we are 20 feet to the left of the entrance. It took around 20 total minutes to navigate the maze and find our way out.

The corn maze is a unique, mind-stimulating activity which really adds to the genuine midwestern autumn experience at Goebbert’s.

Pumpkin patch

There are thousands of pumpkins, seemingly as far as the eye can see. They are of varying shapes and sizes, and some are even green.

Instantly, I was taken back to all the trips I made to pumpkin farms as a child. Seeing the children excitedly picking out pumpkins and talking about carving them was contagious.

I decide I want to carve one and searched for about 10 minutes before settling on a large, relatively blemish-free pumpkin. It was very heavy, and I was still carrying it along with the bag of apples.

The pumpkin patch experience will always be an autumn staple, and given that the mascot of Goebbert’s is a giant pumpkin head on top of a silo, it is a key part of visiting here.

Pumpkin-eating dinosaur

The tractor wagon ride takes us back to the main part of the fall festival, where I then stumble upon an eight-foot-tall orange animatronic dinosaur. He is surrounded by a pile of pumpkins on the ground, some whole and some mangled.

After a brief wait, the dinosaur awakens and lets out a bellowing ‘hmm’ that makes an elderly woman jump. She smiles joyfully.

The dinosaur spends a few minutes reaching its neck down and children enthusiastically take turns petting its snout.

The dinosaur then picks up one of the whole pumpkins with its sharp metal teeth, extends back to its full height, and chomps down on it, causing tiny bits of mushed pumpkin to fly in every direction. The children and adults both get a kick out of it.

The dinosaur slowly opens its jaws, and the now-mangled pumpkin falls the eight feet and smashes into the ground.

The pumpkin-eating dinosaur is an all-around spectacle and is a must-see if you are visiting Goebbert’s. Even as an adult, I find it entertaining to watch.

Animal Land

For the final part of my visit to Goebbert’s, I stop by Animal Land, a zoo that is located in the back of the fall festival.

Entering Animal Land, I first walk into the animal barn, the center of which contains chickens and their babies in an enclosure.

There are several pens throughout the barn, containing goats, llamas, pigs, ducks, a calf and an emu. They are all very active animals, and the ducks are clearly the loudest ones there.

There are no signs prohibiting you from petting the animals, though their enclosures and pens are not set up as if it is a petting zoo.

I leave the barn, and head to the large animal tent, a massive circus-like tent containing what is very clearly a petting and feeding zoo. There are sheep, larger llamas, alpacas, zebras, giraffes, kangaroos, and a large bull there among others.

The large animal tent has cups of seed for $2 and cups of carrot sticks for $5 to feed the animals. I buy some carrot sticks and walk around feeding the animals, all of which seem to enjoy them.

The animals are all very friendly and eager to greet visitors and eat out of their hands. Some tend to bully their pen-mates out of food, though that is to be expected.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the different animals you don’t get to see every day, and in a setting outside of the harder-to-navigate major zoos like Brookfield. Goebbert’s does a fantastic job at arranging the zoo and providing a wide range of animals to visit in one convenient area.


I highly recommend visiting the fall festival at Goebbert’s Farm in Pingree Grove. It is fun, easy to get in and out of, and is a genuine midwestern autumn experience the whole family can enjoy.

In total, I spent around three hours at the farm. Between my admission, pumpkin, apples and the carrot sticks, I spent a total of $43. Goebbert’s is fairly priced compared to other pumpkin farms I have been to, especially considering how much there is to do here.

Goebbert’s is located at 42W813 Reinking Rd. in Pingree Grove, with another location at 40 W. Higgins Rd. in South Barrington.

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