Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Pumpkins arrive to signal the beginning of fall | For Subscribers Only

The arrival of fall often is marked by colorful leaves, cool winds and the aroma of pumpkin spice foods and drinks everywhere you go.

In Victoria for the past 30 years, one of the first markers of fall is the arrival of First United Methodist Church’s pumpkin patch. Volunteers from across the region and state come to help unload pumpkins and gourds from Farmington, New Mexico — this year more than 3,500 of them — and create a Pumpkin Patch Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers assist with transporting pumpkins on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.


Each year, the pumpkins are hauled over 1,000 miles for 15 hours from the mountains of northwestern New Mexico to Victoria, said Nelda Hensley, First United Methodist Pumpkin Patch Committee member.

With the Pumpkins’ arrival, community members and people from across the state came to help unload the trailer, Hensley said. Saturday morning, they swept hay out as they progressed thoroughly the trailer, created a human chain to get each pumpkin and gourd to the appropriate spot in the patch, stacking them as they went.

The volunteers included people of all ages. Invariably, children split off from the group to play in the hay, where they made hay angels and took pictures in the patch.



First United Methodist 2022 Pumpkin Patch

Volunteers unload more than 3,500 pumpkins from a trailer Saturday morning at First United Methodist. The arrival of the pumpkins signifies the opening of the church’s 30th annual pumpkin patch this October.


After almost three hours, the last pumpkin was offloaded and placed in the patch and the remaining volunteers celebrated their work and opened the pumpkin patch, officially ushering in fall in Victoria.

Volunteers also wished volunteer Gabe Avila, 12, a happy birthday. Gabe, a Harold Cade Middle School student and church youth group member, chooses to spend part of his birthday unloading the pumpkins.

This was the first time he helped with the pumpkin patch, and thought it was a lot of work but an overall enjoyable experience. He said he probably would buy a pumpkin at some point this month, but also allowed his exhaustion to speak, saying, “I’m probably not going to touch another pumpkin in my life.”



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers place pumpkins on pallets during the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.


The money from the pumpkins sold at the patch will be split between the growers and various charitable causes in the community, Hensley said. Those causes historically include the youth group at the church, local boy and girl scout troops, the children’s ministry, the Victoria Christian Assistance Ministry and food pantries.

It’s positive all around as it help people who depend on the seasonal employment, Hensley said, adding it also helps the community.

“It’s kind of neat because it’s real direct,” Hensley said. “These pumpkins were just taken out of the field (Thursday) morning and put on an 18-wheeler.”



First United Methodist's 2022 Pumpkin Patch

A specatled swan gourd sits behind a picture frame at the First United Methodist 30th annual Pumpkin Patch while volunteers continue to unload pumpkins Saturday morning.


In the coming month, the patch will be open from 9 am to 7 pm daily except Sundays, when it will be open noon to 7 pm, she said.

“We’ve been doing it for 30 years, and the Victoria area, the city and and this area and community have been very supportive of us and we just enjoy doing it,” Hensley said. “It’s fun, little kids come out and see 3,500 pumpkins that they’ve never seen like that before and it’s always just fun. Everyone just has a good time.”

Starting this week, schools will visit to take part in activities at the patch and so children, parents and friends can take pictures, Hensley said.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Matt Mathieu operates a forklift on Saturday morning to transport pumpkins for the pumpkin patch at First United Methodist Church.


Activities at the patch include ring toss, pumpkin cornhole, pumpkin putt-putt, tic-tac-toe, a “How Tall This Fall” height measurement and a haystack so kids can try to find the proverbial “needle in the haystack,” which will be a Halloween type of gift, she said.

On Oct. 23 The church will have organ music playing in the patch as part of a Victoria Area Organ Guild concert, Hensley said.

There are stories of people coming to the patch to take pictures from all over just because it is a family tradition, some who come just because they saw a sign while driving, she said.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Matt Mathieu operates a forklift on Saturday morning to transport pumpkins for the pumpkin patch at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers pick up gourds to put in the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers pass pumpkins to each other to place in the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers assist with transporting pumpkins on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers work together at the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers place pumpkins on pallets during the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Joan Mathieu measures pumpkins at the pumpkin patch arrvial on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Lavinia Yates photographs her daughter, Sarah Yates, playing in the hay on Saturday morning at the First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Jill Friedle collects hay for the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Children measure their heights at the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Rick McBrayer assists with unloading pumpkins for the pumpkin arrival on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Dean Haack helps unload pumpkins from the truck to the pumpkin patch on Saturday at First United Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Joan Mathieu places the prices of the pumpkins on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

In addition to pumpkins, people can also purchase pumpkin bread on Saturady at the pumpkin patch at First United Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Matt Mathieu operates a forklift on Saturday morning to transport pumpkins for the pumpkin patch at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers pick up gourds to put in the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers pass pumpkins to each other to place in the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers assist with transporting pumpkins on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers work together at the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Volunteers place pumpkins on pallets during the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Joan Mathieu measures pumpkins at the pumpkin patch arrvial on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Lavinia Yates photographs her daughter, Sarah Yates, playing in the hay on Saturday morning at the First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Jill Friedle collects hay for the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Children measure their heights at the pumpkin patch arrival on Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Rick McBrayer assists with unloading pumpkins for the pumpkin arrival on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Dean Haack helps unload pumpkins from the truck to the pumpkin patch on Saturday at First United Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

Joan Mathieu places the prices of the pumpkins on Saturday at First United Methodist Church.



Pumpkin Patch arrival

Pumpkin Patch arrival

In addition to pumpkins, people can also purchase pumpkin bread on Saturady at the pumpkin patch at First United Church.

“It’s just kind of tradition,” Hensley said as the Methodist church transforms into the Pumpkin Patch Church. “I hope that it’s a comfortable safe place where people feel welcomed and can just come and enjoy.”

Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.

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