Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

RENO, Nev. -- Colorful leaves, candy corn and creative costumes--for many people, Halloween is a favorite time of year. Picking pumpkins is a tradition for many families and it's in full swing in Northern Nevada. Do you know how to pick a perfect pumpkin?

When you ask children how they pick pumpkins, they go for uniqueness.

"I like it because it has nice spots on it," Keith Smalley, seven-year-old said.

"It's round and small and I can pick it up," Anthony Gonzalez, seven-year-old said.

"Something not too hard and not too soft," Diedrich Bauer, nine-year-old said.

Kids know exactly what they want in a pumpkin.

"He ran straight to the one he wanted," Smalley's grandmother, Patty Smalley said. "He knew he wanted one that kind of had a curved in face."

Keith Smalley appreciates the unique qualities in each pumpkin so much that he doesn't even want to carve it.

"I like it how it is right now. I'm going to keep it like this," he said.

He made sure he was the only one to have the perfect pumpkin.

"I hid it behind a haystack so no one would find it, so when I went in the jumpy house for 10 minutes, I came back for it."

For others, it's not that simple, especially when there are more than 40-thousand pounds to choose from.

"We usually go and bring the kids and let them pick them out," Mike McDowell, a Reno resident and father of two said. "It's more exciting when they get to pick them out."

From its size, down to its shape, it all comes down to personal preference.

"I like a nice plump round one that you can put a candle in well," Smalley said.

"When it kind of sits up and it's got a good face on it and it's got a little personality coming at the top," Jessica Cotterell, mother of one said.

If you don't know where to start, look for a pumpkin with a green stem; it indicates that it was just harvested and it'll last you a little bit longer.

Sam Shaw has run the Toll House Pumpkin Patch for about thirty years and says there is no set guideline when it comes to picking the "perfect pumpkin."

"If you have like 10 pumpkins side by side, one person is going to think the ugliest pumpkin is the one they want," he said. "I don't think there really is any set perfect pumpkin; everybody's different."

Growers suggest holding off on the carving until a couple of days before Halloween to keep the pumpkins from rotting. They also advise waiting to buy your pumpkin until the day of Halloween if you want to save a couple of dollars.

Toll House Pumpkin Patch is located at 12185 S. Virginia Street in Reno. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through the 31st.

Ferrari Farms is on Mill Street in Reno, a block east of Rock Boulevard. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through the 31st.

Andelin Family Farm Pumpkin Patch is located at 8100 Pyramid Way. Hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Sundays.

Lattin Farms is about 60 miles east of Reno / Sparks, at 1955 McLean Road, Fallon, NV 89406. The corn maze is open during October, on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Nevada Day (October 25, 2013) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Corley Ranch is located south of Carson City at 859 Highway 395 South in Gardnerville.

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