Lindsay and Markus Ward said they wanted to help produce a similar family-friendly event after a Wilburton staple was cancelled this year.
After the Robbers Cave Fall Festival was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Latimer County couple said their community needed something to feel more normal.
"Our community cannot afford to lose out on all the money that comes in that weekend — plus we all want a little bit of normal," said Lindsay Ward, who is also the Wilburton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows Latimer County had 129 total cases, 113 total recoveries, two deaths and 14 active cases as of Friday.
Organizers of the Robbers Cave Fall Festival posted on Facebook in August that the annual event was canceled for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"We feel that we need to do it at this time so our vendors might have the time to get into another show," the committee said in the post. "We were so looking forward to seeing each and every one of you this year, but we just want everyone to be safe and we feel like this is the only solution."
Committee members said in the post that they plan to bring the event back next year — with dates set for October 15-17, 2021.
But the Wards and community members wanted to make something happen before next year.
Lindsay Ward said the 80 usable acres on the ranch, which means every individual can have a 12-square-foot box to practice physical distancing outdoors. She said the maximum capacity is 290,000, but "I'm not going to have that many at one time."
"I feel like we can most definitely, safely host it," Lindsay Ward said. "We're not in this to make any money, I'd like to cover my staff, obviously, but we wanted to be able to provide something for the community."
The Wards and other community members organized Parkin' at the Patch, a fair and car show set for Oct. 17 at their ranch in Wilburton.
Admission is free to the event that includes vendors and pumpkin patch activities with tickets that can be purchased.
A shine-and-show car show is also set for the event. Anyone who wants to register for the car show must pay $20 per vehicle by Oct. 10. Vehicle registration also includes free activity passes.
Wilburton Main Street will host a cruise night and Wilburton Area Chamber of Commerce will host a burnout on that night, too. Lindsay Ward said the pumpkin patch will be closed at 6 p.m. and everyone will be encouraged to participate in those events in downtown Wilburton.
She said the pumpkin patch gates will be reopened at 8 p.m. and a concert by local band The Deadweights is set for 9:30 p.m. with a $10 admission fee.
The Wards opened the pumpkin patch last year and hosted thousands with their hay maze, corn pit, activities and more.
Linsday Ward, a teacher at Red Oak Public Schools, said they host groups of students from various schools for field trips.
"We try to provide an educational field trip when they come, provide them the life cycle of a pumpkin, teach them a little bit about 'why do we have farm animals and what do we use them for?'" Lindsay Ward said.
She said with precautions enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pumpkin patch is also offering schools to host their own STEM nights at the farm.
Curriculum and supplemental material would be provided, which slightly increases the price for materials, for students to learn about agriculture.
The farm includes a petting zoo, a large playground, a merry-go-round, games, a gift shop, ducky races, tetherball, and more.
"We just want the kids to get some agriculture education because agriculture has always been a big part of my life," Markus Ward said.
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