Lia Hillman, Features Editor
When the cooler weather arrives and the leaves start to change colors, people begin to migrate toward pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
“Everybody loves this weather,” Michelle Kozel said. “I love this season a lot.”
Michelle and her husband Tony Kozel own and operate Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin.
The pumpkin patch is located at 7110 N Harrison Street in Shawnee, Okla.
“We’re open almost every day in October,” Tony said.
Sunshine Shelly’s has many activities, including a hay ride, for visitors to enjoy.
“It’s pulled by a 1950 two-cylinder tractor,” Tony said.
Another popular activity at Sunshine Shelly’s is the five-acre corn maze.
“Everybody that comes goes through the maze,” Michelle said.
Other activities include a barrel train, corn pits, a kid’s play area, inflatables and a corn cannon.
“The corn cannon is pretty neat,” Tony said. “It can shoot an ear-of-corn about 600 feet.”
But the most popular activity is the 15-acre pumpkin patch.
“You pick your own pumpkin,” Tony said. “We have little carts, and we give you some clippers, and you go out in the patch and find the pumpkin of your dreams.”
Going into their third year of owning Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin Patch, they said the operation and business has grown.
“From the first year we had it on this scale we had pretty good crowds,” he said. “Last year, we doubled [attendance]. We hope it doubles again.”
However, the first year they owned the pumpkin patch was not easy.
Michelle had previously helped and worked at a pumpkin patch nearby.
“[The owner] just decided he wanted to move,” Tony said.
The Kozels decided they would take the opportunity to open their own pumpkin patch.
“We did everything wrong,” he said.
Pumpkin seeds were supposed to be planted in June, but they didn’t get started planting until July.
“The weather didn’t help us,” he said. “It was the first year we came out of the drought.”
Pumpkins weren’t growing in time and they had to bring in pumpkins from elsewhere just so people could leave with one.
Despite the setback, the Kozels said they still had good business.
“We would sell a trailer load every Saturday and Sunday,” Tony said.
And the number of visitors continues to grow each year.
“Last year, we had close to a thousand people here on a Saturday. We loved seeing that,” he said.
The Kozels said they receive positive feedback from people who come through.
“They absolutely love it,” Michelle said. “They all comment on how there needs to be something for the kids to do that’s family oriented.”
Michelle said her favorite part of owning Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin patch is the people who come to visit.
“The people are so friendly, so nice,” she said.
The visitors come in all ages.
“During the day we’ll have grandparents with their grandkids,” Tony said. “In the evening, the high schoolers and college students come.”
Tony’s favorite part is getting to drive the hay rides.
“It’s neat to see the kids who have never been around anything that’s agriculture,” he said. “To get to see the look on their faces when they experience things that they’ve never been around is pretty cool.”
Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids and includes everything except the corn cannon and a pumpkin.
“You can buy a pumpkin 35 cents by the pound, and support your local economy” Tony said.
Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin Patch opened Sept. 16, and will remain open until Nov. 5.
“It’s just a great atmosphere for anybody,” Tony said.