Pursuing the perfect pumpkin at two Carroll farms

Weston Pearre woke up and watched “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” first thing Saturday, Oct. 20.

And when the 5-year-old and his family took to Showvaker’s Quality Evergreens tree farm to pick pumpkins and participate in the fall-themed extravaganza, Weston had added motivation to do the extraordinary.


“This is the one I’m getting,” Weston proudly announced, hugging an enormous pumpkin.

“You can’t even roll it,” his father, Rob Pearre, of Hanover, Pennsylvania, told his son.

“Daddy, can you help me?”

“I thought the the rule was you had to get it yourself.”

The local corn mazes this Oct. are all returning favorites that put an emphasis on local ag.

The odds were against Weston, as the pumpkin easily outweighed him. The route to the family’s red wagon was uphill and involved navigating a minefield of the spherical orange fruit.

But dang it, that was his gourd. So he got low like a football player flipping tractor tires and rolled the thing to the wagon.

Weston confirmed to the Times that he used every drop of strength and energy he wielded, and that, sadly, his pumpkin of choice wasn’t as big as Charlie Brown’s.

Pumpkin picking and all the other fall festivities at the Christmas tree farm, said owner Lisa Showvaker, “it’s all about making memories with the families. That’s what we’re here to do.”


The pumpkin patch at the farm in Manchester has been up and running since Sept. 15. Showvaker said she expects the mid-October weekend, however, will be the biggest for pumpkins.

This year has been tough on pumpkins, which they planted in July, Showvaker explained. Historic amounts of summer rain thoroughly soaked crop fields.

“What we see with a lot of rain is that they just start to rot because they’re laying on the wet ground, so the bottoms get soft,” Showvaker said.

Maryland's heavy rains this year have stunted the pumpkin crop, leading some sellers to purchase gourds from out of state.

As a result more pumpkins had to be discarded than the past.

About 20 miles south of Showvaker’s, Baugher’s Orchard and Farm in Westminster was bustling. Lines for the hayride shuttle to the pumpkin patch were considerable — every tractor-towed wagon packed to the brim with eager pickers of all walks.

Keeping one eye on operations, Cyndy Howes, manager of the adjacent Baugher’s Market, spoke of the challenges resulting from unprecedented rain.


“I’ve been here 14 years,” Howes said. “I’ve never seen anything like this rain.”

The 600-acre operation has been lucky as it relates to pumpkins, Howes explained.

The crop was planted a little later this year, she said, sparing the fruit of the some early, extensive rains.

Baugher’s certainly lost some to rot, but its fields also yielded enough orange gourds to fuel its wholesale operation, Howes said.

Tractors and their trailing wagons operated like a bus service — a big rotation. As one wagon was dropping off a group at the patch, another would be loading by the market.

The patch, an expansive field with neatly lined rows of pumpkins, looked more like an Easter egg hunt Saturday. Children sprinted the rows in search of the pumpkin.

“They should give instructions on how to pick pumpkins,” said Carol Rendulic, of Severna Park. “The secret is you don’t pick them up by the stems.”

If one committed that cardinal pumpkin-picking sin, they’d likely leave behind stemless gourds — far from ideal for carving.

Don those outlandish costumes and join us for our annual screening of the cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Friday, Oct. 26, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, and $14 for students and seniors.

“They won’t have a hat,” Rendulic said, concern in her voice.

It’s not just about the picking, but the experience. And the experience calls for documentation.

Sierra Reppe, a Carroll native who recently graduated from LIM College in New York, struck a pose as her cousin Hailey Isaac snapped photos with an iPhone. Reppe experimented holding the pumpkin in different positions.

Instagram worthy? “Maybe,” she said.

The two cousins looked for the perfect pumpkin. Their criteria: “A perfect stem,” said Isaac, a Carroll Community College student; “Not too dirty,” added Reppe.

“I keep telling her you can wash it,” said a frustrated Isaac, standing by what she considered a perfectly acceptable pumpkin.

But it had a yellow spot.

“That would be a no-no for me,” Reppe said.

Bounty in arm, pumpkin pickers filed back onto the straw-seated shuttles.

Korday Williams, 6, said he chose his pumpkin because it was green, and “green is my favorite color.” A young thrill-seeker, he liked when the tractor picked up speed, and yelled enthusiastically when the wagon’s upper reaches struck overhanging tree branches.

This year I thought I’d plan ahead at some fun ways to use up excessive Halloween candy.

The Baltimore County resident was still full of energy because only part of the job was done. His envisioned a spooky-faced jack-o'-lantern, complete with snake eyes and whiskers, and that would take some serious effort.

Back at Showvaker’s Weston Pearre remained adamant about every family member — he was there with at least 10, led by family matriarch and Weston’s grandmother, Rennie Pearre, of Hampstead — taking home two pumpkins.

He had no energy left to hoist his behemoth bounty into the wagon. He solicited his father’s help. Rob Pearre, a special education teacher at Manchester Valley High, suggested exchanging it for something smaller.

The youngest Pearre was having none of it.

“Great, Mimi [Rennie] is paying for that one,” the father said, having done some mental math about the cost — 50 cents per pound.

A family-fueled day of fall fun at two of Carroll County’s premier farms. Time to dig out the carving equipment.