Pumpkins, sure, but county farm harvests family fun

SNOHOMISH — Tanya Slonecker’s daughters couldn’t care less about pumpkins.

Thankfully, there was plenty else for them.

The Mill Creek woman brought her two daughters and their neighborhood friends to Stocker Farms to have a little seasonal fun.

Her younger daughter Jillian, 7, shoveled kernels from a corn sandbox into her shirt and held them there to make a “corn belly.”

Eleven-year-old Piper raced through the corn maze with friends, trying to beat their 17-minute record.

“There’s just something for everyone,” Tanya Slonecker said during their visit last week.

The Snohomish farm has been in Keith Stocker’s family for four generations, but it wasn’t always open to tourists.

“If you would have asked me, years ago, if this farm would thrive off of ‘agritainment,’ I wouldn’t have believed it,” Stocker said.

“It’s a really fun way to make a living … seeing the kids have fun, like ‘corn belly’ over here.”

Pumpkin patches are open for the season, but most have to offer more than pumpkin-picking to draw in crowds.

Stocker Farms and five others that make up the Snohomish Festival of Pumpkins have activities for all ages. Most have corn mazes and farm animals. Stocker Farms has split personalities.

During the day, it’s open for families with younger kids to pick pumpkins, ride a tractor-pulled train or jump on an inflatable “jumping pillow.”

“It’s really funny to watch adults jump,” Stocker said. “At first, they’re not so sure, but after a while, they’re absolutely giddy. It’s a hoot.”

At night, it becomes Stalker Farms.

That’s when older kids can load up on black light paintballs and shoot at zombies during the farm’s Hunt for Zombie Paintball Ride.

Participants ride on a trailer through dark cornfields and shoot at actors with special protective gear — which means they can take headshots. Everyone understands that the only way to kill a zombie is to get ‘em in the head.

“They take about 10,000 shots a night,” Stocker said. “And they’re just loving it.”

The Snohomish Festival of Pumpkins offers season passes, on sale now, that include multiple admission to corn mazes, pumpkin patches and other activities through Oct. 26.

Passes are $100 for a family of four per farm, available at www.festivalofpumpkins.org.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; astewart@heraldnet.com.

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