On September 8, 20 members of Bismarck-Mandan Young Professionals Network (YPN) met for an event at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck, ND. Three children of members also attended. The event was co-sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Team and Service Team. Seven students from the University of Mary also joined YPN members for a great opportunity to network. The evening began with a presentation by Dave Pierce about the history of the patch. After a break for pizza and refreshments, members and students unloaded trailers of pumpkin and set up various structures and decorations throughout the patch.
Dave and his sister, Tracy Finneman, operate Papa’s Pumpkin Patch. When Dave and Tracy’s parents founded the patch, school kids would travel to the patch to pick out pumpkins. More children arrived each year and the patch was short on its pumpkin supply five years in a row. The family would plant more pumpkins to prepare for increased traffic, but the number of children far exceeded the prepared new crop. The patch would reach out to members of its farming community to supplement the pumpkin inventory.
During it’s third year of existence, the patch decided to make many photo opportunities for visitors to capture memories from their visits. When the patch grew to the point of having up to 6,000 children per day pass through it’s gates, it was necessary to build activity centers such as slides, zip lining, a hay bale maze and many more. This is in addition to the pumpkin launching cannons and catapults that entertain guests every year.
As part of the presentation, Dave gave the following advice:
1. Passion: “When you find passion, there is no obstacle that can stop you. It’s the fire in the belly that keeps you going.” – D. Pierce
2. Balance & Synergy: “Every coin has two faces, there is a time for profit and time for fun.” – D. Pierce
3. TEAM: “The patch would not be possible without volunteers. There are so many people helping behind the scenes, painters, mechanics, etc.” – D. Pierce
Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is also recognized on a national level. The Travel Channel and Yahoo! each list them as a Top Ten Pumpkin Patch to visit. In year 2015, the patch had 62,000 visitors. Projections for 2016 exceed 70,000 people!