PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) -- The future is unclear for a long-time community staple. The owners of Pumpkin Works in Paris, Illinois say they are retiring after this season.
Storm team 10's Brady Harp spoke to owner Paul Staley before he and his wife told the public about their plans in a Facebook post this past weekend.
Staley says he hopes someone can take over so the tradition can continue for Wabash Valley families but if not this will be the last year for Pumpkin Works.
Staley says, "The body just can't work twenty hours a day, seven days a week anymore and so it was kind of a tough decision but we made it."
Paul Staley and wife Sherry have been running the business for twenty-six years.
Staley says, "We didn't really have an exit plan. I think we thought we were going to live forever."
Some of the activities offered, for what could be the patch's final season, have changed. Staley explains a new spooky corn maze is replacing the scary wagon ride.
"I'm seventy-two years old and that tractor and wagon's fifty feet long and taking it through the woods, in the dark... It's just, it was time to move on to a spooky cornfield."
The prices have changed, too. For fifteen dollars loyal patrons can access all the mazes and rides and get a pumpkin.
Danielle Wolfe says she brings her family to Pumpkin Works each year.
"I think we like just about everything from the pumpkin ice cream to the peanut butter fudge to the hayrides and the pumpkin patch and of course, I think her name is Penelope the talking pumpkin, the boys always really like Penelope."
She and her husband say they have been coming to Pumpkin Works since they were children and even traveled to Illinois each season while they were living in Indianapolis.
“I hope that, you know, someone else local to the community is able to pick up where they leave off. I think it's just a great place to come and enjoy a fall day with your family and it's been a tradition for our family now for so long so I hope that it continues."
Staley says he hopes Pumpkin Works is around for years to come but it remains unclear who, if anyone, will take over.
Staley says, "It's going to be kind of tough to shut it down but maybe that won't happen. Maybe, maybe we'll get something put together that continues. We wouldn't be opposed to helping the new management next year but I think we'll be a face that's around but, you know, it's going to be a big adjustment, too."
When asked what makes to perfect pumpkin, Staley says the answer is “in the eye of the beholder.”
"A couple years ago we had a green big pumpkin and it was almost Halloween and I thought well I'd just pick that and I'd buy everybody supper if that disappears and the lady bought it right off of the pick-up before we got it unloaded on the lot so you know it's what the individual wants."
THIS YEAR’S HARVEST
Staley says "Terribly hot and terribly dry" conditions in July caused the first batch of pumpkins he planted to die. He says he had to replant the fields.
"Sugar pumpkins are just barely ready now and the big pumpkins will be ready next week."
Despite the late start, Staley says he thinks this year’s crop is a good one.
"I think there's a lot of pumpkins out there. I think there's going to be plenty for this fall."
PUMPKIN WORKS HOURS
Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. IL time (11a-11p IN time)
Sundays: 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. IL time (1p-7p IN time)
Fridays in October: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. IL time (11a-6p IN time)
Monday Oct. 8 and 15: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. IL time (11a-6p IN time)
The last day is October 28th.
PUMPKIN WORKS PRICES
Armbands are $15 and include admission to all activities behind the barn and a free pumpkin under ten pounds.
Children 3 and under are free.
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