By Winter Dorval - Staff Reporter
ake kids, add pumpkins, blue skies, a corn maze and you've got the recipe for a fun day at the Carpinito Brothers U-Pick Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze.
Fun is how it all began for the farming operation that is now a Kent institution.
"Back in the '60s on the family farm, the Carpinito brothers used to grow squash. They'd enter it in the Puyallup Fair competitions to be judged on quality, and size," said Thomas Carpinito, a fourth-generation descendant from the original Carpinito brothers.
Adam, Thomas's sibling, said the original brothers grew pumpkins in their backyard.
"Their hobby led them to start selling them on the side of the road, and it grew into a full retail business that's been around for over 50 years," Thomas said.
Today, the Carpinito Brothers produce business boasts that it is the closest pumpkin patch to Seattle.
Pumpkin season has always been a huge part of the operation, they've always sold pumpkins at the main store north of downtown Kent, Thomas said.
"Unlike some of the other pumpkin patches, this one is on most people's way, and they don't have to drive the extra few miles because we're so close," Adam said.
The original backyard patch has grown into a U-pick Pumpkin Patch which includes a corn maze at South 277th and the West Valley Highway. Tractor-pulled hay rides are also being offered.
Lately it has expanded to include the former site of the Smith Brothers Dairy and now features a Farm Fun Yard.
There, kid-friendly activities, such as Rodeo Ropin' Cows, an area with sidewalk chalk, and a water feature for rubber duck races, with water pumps at either side of the PVC pipe so kids can send the ducks back and forth.
Oh, yeah, and young farm animals: ducks, chickens, pigs, a cow, a kangaroo, goats, and a tortoise.
The kids also get their own maze.
"The hay maze is the perfect height for kids to run around in all day since they can't see over the sides," Adam said. "We really saw a demand for it, because the corn maze is too big for kids. They get scared, and lost so we wanted to fill the need for something catered towards them."
The brothers, though, want people to know that Carpinito Brothers is more a fall phenomenon.
"October is a very important month for us. Pumpkins are one of the larger crops we grow, along with the corn," Adam said.
But Thomas quickly explained: "This is a working farm, as well as a pumpkin patch. We also sell wholesale and retail crops."
"We organize our year by seasons. Spring and summer, we have the seasonal flowers, fall is pumpkins, winter is Christmas trees," Thomas said.
And, of course, there is the produce. The Kent Valley was once one of the biggest lettuce growing regions, and Kent once set a record for the world's largest salad.
But still, pumpkin season reigns supreme.
"I think everybody loves fall, the turning of the seasons. They love to celebrate, and all of the festivities," Adam said. "You can involve the whole family, a lot of times I'll see grandparents with their kids and grandkids. Coming here is a great tradition."
The U-Pick Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze is at 27508 West Valley Highway N. Admissions for the Corn Maze are $10 for adults (ages 13 and older), $7 for children (ages 5-12), and free for kids 4 and younger.
The Farm Fun Yard is across the street at 6720 S. 277th St. Admission is $5 per person (2 years and older). Hayrides are $3 each, ages 4 and older.