With the shortening of days and the changing of seasons come the aroma of pie, apple picking, candy corn and football games, not to mention the ultimate harbinger of the encroaching autumn; it's the great pumpkin (Charlie Brown)! Whether it's the ever-popular latte or a carving contest, the Show-Me State offers a plethora of ways to enjoy all things pumpkin.
Pumpkin spice – it's a thing, and you either love it or hate it. For those that fall in the "love it" category, Missouri has found a way to add pumpkin spice flavor to pretty much every type of beverage. O'Fallon Brewery in Maryland Heights has a variety pack of pumpkin beers available including Salted Caramel, Jack O'Latte, Mexican Hot Chocolate and their original Pumpkin Beer. Check out a few other tasty beverages here.
Pumpkin is the squash of the Midwest. You can grill it, boil it, roast it, bake it, saute it. There's pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bars and pumpkin lasagna (you see where I am going with this). Many Missouri restaurants highlight pumpkin on their fall menus. Make an order from Bulrush in St. Louis to experience hyper-seasonal "Ozark Cuisine" such as roasted pumpkin from Bellews Farm with local pork, molé powder, radish and house made yogurt with tahini dressing. (Please note: this item was on their 2019 fall menu, at this time, Bulrush is offering limited seating in their dining room.) Satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake from My Daddy's Cheesecake in Cape Girardeau, a pumpkin spice doughnut at Elliana's Donut Shop in Columbia or Prairie Pie's sweet potato pumpkin pie, available in various locations in Springfield.
Looking for the perfect pumpkin to carve or use as décor? Load up the kiddos and head to one of Missouri's U-pick farms. Beggs Family Farm in Sikeston offers a themed 10-acre corn maze and escape room as well as mini golf, a haunted boo barn and of course, a prize pumpkin waiting to be picked! Other places to pick out a pumpkin include The Cave Pumpkin Patch in Brumley, Lloyd's Pumpkin Patch in Ashland, and The Red Barn Farm in Weston. Most are open seasonally so be sure to check websites for hours of operation.
Clearly this hallmark of fall is an entity to be celebrated, and Missouri does so at pumpkin-themed festivals across the state. Plan a trip to Pumpkin Nights at Silver Dollar City Sept. 23-Oct. 31 in Branson and see thousands of glowing pumpkins illuminate the park. For a more hometown feel, visit the Village of Caledonia for their Pumpkin Fest October 10. Enjoy the pumpkin patch and games, music, food and a parade. And check out Pumpkin Palooza Oct. 24 in Washington. Activities include a giant pumpkin contest, seed spittin' contest, pumpkin roll, costume contest, story time and music.
Some locations are requiring masks to be worn by patrons and some annual activities and festivals have been cancelled for 2020 due to the pandemic. Please call ahead to check regulations and hours of operation.
Written by Amanda Long