The Big O.C. Quiz How much do you know about Orange County? Grab a pen and try your hand at these activities, puzzles, and brainteasers themed around local people, places, and events.
A Taste of Home Miguel González Reynoso, co-president and CEO of Northgate González Market, celebrates 40 years since his family opened its first store in Anaheim. The Latino supermarket chain now boasts 41 locations across Southern California.
The Days We Were Dry It has been 100 years since Prohibition went into effect. The majority of Orange County residents at the time agreed with the ban, but we had our fair share of lawbreakers. Here’s what the county looked like during the Prohibition era from 1920 to 1933.
People & Places
Opener | A surprise rope swing overlooking Saddleback in Laguna Niguel ’Hoods | Intriguing dining options in Fountain Valley Perfect Getaway | Travel deals and otherworldly scenes beckon in Cappadocia, Turkey. Quotes | Orange resident Christin Le is a mentor and regional director at CovEd and founder of Lê Crumb Bakery. Culturephile | Michael S. Smith chronicles his renovation of the Obama White House in “Designing History.” O.C. Events | Sawdust Festival, drive-in movies, and more
Style & Home
Opener| Louis Vuitton’s Malle Pique-Nique debuted at South Coast Plaza Style Talk With … | The founder and creative director of Cleobella in Huntington Beach Finds | Layer up in plaid, fall’s favorite trend. On The Market | A Villa Park property with spacious dining areas Sourced | Shoppe Amber Interiors at Lido Marina Village
Food & Drink
Opener and Main Course | The refreshed Sapphire Cellar Craft Cook in Laguna Beach 5 Questions With … | The owner of Buenas Coffee in Costa Mesa Food Collector | Add a sweet note to your holidays with these local pies.
My O.C. | O.C.’s hotel rooftop bars and lounges garnish their cocktails with spectacular views.
Many of our 200-plus restaurant reviews
Person of Interest | Newport Beach-based yoga instructor Chelsey Lowe and her dog compete on the new Amazon series “The Pack.”
At the Comic-Con in San Diego a couple of years ago, Dustin Nguyen sat at a drawing table in front of fans and knocked out sketches of the DC Comics characters he’s known for: Damian, Batman’s spiky-haired son. Batman himself. A pint-size Wonder Woman. A kid Riddler in a bowler hat with a question mark. One after another.
You can watch the session on YouTube. His pencil moves with a restless energy, and before long he has turned out sketches for every kid in the front row, and one extra, “just in case another kid shows up out of nowhere,” Nguyen says. It seems so effortless and intuitive; you might assume it’s the work of a gifted natural talent. Not according to him.
“Every level I was at, there was always someone better than me. I could just tell,” he says. “Even in high school. Everyone knew that I was an artist, not because I was good but because I kept doing it. I would just draw all day.”
The effort paid off. At DC Comics, he was paired with writer and industry legend Paul Dini on “Batman: Streets of Gotham” and other titles. With writer Derek Fridolfs, he created a hit series, “Batman: Li’l Gotham,” starring the DC superheroes as kids, and another featuring Bruce Wayne and friends as middle schoolers, which debuted as a bestseller on The New York Times list.
He has won two Eisner Awards, the Oscars of the comic world, for artwork in “Descender,” a series he created with Canadian writer Jeff Lemire. Along with its sequel series, “Ascender,” it follows the adventures of a boy robot called Tim-21 designed as a companion for a kid at a mining colony on a distant moon. This summer, Lark Productions, part of NBCUniversal International Studios, bought the TV rights for the books with plans for a live-action series.
A key to Nguyen’s success, according to Fridolfs, lies in a sentiment the illustrator has repeated so often it could be his motto: “It’s just comics.”
“It never feels like work. And we try not to take it too seriously,” Fridolfs says. “He makes it fun. If it’s something we like, then the audience will enjoy it, too. And I feel like that’s never failed us.”
He sure looks like he’s having fun in that Comic-Con video, drawing another kid character and poking fun at himself. “See, the secret’s gone. It’s one character over and over. I know you’re thinking it, too, while you’re watching this. This dude is just drawing the same thing. And he’s adding a star and it’s Wonder Woman.”
Even though the Hollywood spotlight is shining on his work, and his books reach a global audience with translations in every language from Italian to Russian to Korean, 44-year-old Nguyen comes across as unassuming and down-to-earth.
He works in a studio in his Fountain Valley home, a “very messy, very messy” place jam-packed with comics and toys, a TV, mismatched furniture, and two tables—one for drawing and the other for painting—which he built himself so that he can work standing up.
“It’s not like the kind of art studio that you imagine, ‘Oh, it’s got plants!’ It’s just madness,” he says, speaking over the phone since the pandemic has made it impossible to experience the madness in person.
It’s 4 in the afternoon on a Monday in June, but he hasn’t started his workday yet—another concession to the pandemic. “I get up around noon,” he says. “Sounds bad. But because of the lockdown, my kids are no longer in school. I used to get up at 8 and take (my daughter) to school, but now I don’t need to get up.” So now he starts at 9 or 10 p.m. and works undisturbed through the night.
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With multiple deadlines, it’s a grinding regime; but he’s living his dream. “I’ve always liked comics. For the longest time I was trying to get into comics.”
Nguyen’s own backstory reads like an adventure tale suited for a graphic novel. Among the first wave of refugees who fled Vietnam by boat in the mid-1970s, he and his family were rescued at sea by the crew of a Swedish vessel. They shuttled from Taiwan to Indonesia to Singapore before relatives in Georgia sponsored their entry into the United States. He was raised in the South and in Southern California by a single mother who fostered his dream of becoming an artist.
“I grew up knowing that Asian parents always wanted a doctor or a lawyer. I’m sure my mom would have loved that. She was very supportive of my art. Also, she has five kids so she could spare one.”
He’d originally trained for a career in industrial design and 3-D engineering and was making headway by the mid-’90s. But his heart wasn’t in it. He kept comic scripts in his car, sketched during lunch breaks, and committed only to enough work to pay for necessities and to go to the comic conventions.
“Back then, the best thing to do was show up (at conventions) in person, carry your portfolio around, talk to editors, ‘Hey, take a look at my stuff.’ DC had portfolio reviews at conventions where you would need a raffle ticket to get in there. So I would go with my brother and a couple of my friends, and they’d all get raffle tickets to try to get me a portfolio review, and finally I got (one).
“You think you’re really great, then you walk into a room and there are 300 people who think they’re really great. It’s tough.”
He persevered, and eventually got a callback from an editor at WildStorm Productions, a studio in La Jolla headed by Jim Lee, the artist and writer who’s now publisher and chief creative officer of DC Comics.
“He called on a Friday and he said, ‘Can you come on Monday, and can you do some pages over the weekend? Are you a page-a-day guy?’ Which means you can draw a page in a day, which is kind of an industry standard for a monthly book.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, of course.’ I couldn’t. It took me a month to do three pages. That weekend, I jammed and I actually did three pages over the weekend. They looked like crap.”
The talent spotters at WildStorm thought otherwise, and he got the job.
“A lot of artists come on trying to ape another artist’s style, but Dustin didn’t. Dustin was very distinct from the get-go,” says John Layman, then an editor at WildStorm who went on to create the Eisner-winning series “Chew.”
Scott Dunbier, former executive editor at WildStorm, agrees that Nguyen’s style was unique: “He was definitely different. The weird thing about Dustin is, he’s one of the few guys that I look at their work but I can’t really see his influences. That’s unusual.”
The skyward arc of Nguyen’s career tracked a shift in comics, from a once-ridiculed genre to a major force in the entertainment industry. Comics or graphic novels are everywhere, inspiring blockbusters such as the “Batman” films and “Black Panther,” and TV series such as HBO’s “Watchmen” and Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” They fuel video games and fill the shelves in bookstore and library teen sections.
Nguyen has worked on his share of iconic superheroes, and he speculates he’s most closely associated with Batman, the character he’s most comfortable drawing. There’s something about the Caped Crusader.
“He’s not like Superman. Superman is great, I love Superman, but Batman— there’s something about him. He does good without having to say he’s good, and he doesn’t have to represent good while doing good. Also, there’s the whole mysterious thing, and every time you see him it looks like it’s 3 in the morning. You get that vibe from him.”
Nguyen’s work on Batman led directly to his “Li’l Gotham” series.
“I started doing it for fun. … I did a lot of stuff that was dark and gritty, and I would do signings and stuff and kids would come by, and once in a while you want to do drawings for kids. So I started drawing cartoon versions of Gotham characters like Batman. I’ve always liked that style because I was influenced by manga and Japanime stuff growing up. So I did my kind of fun TV version of that, and it took off. People liked it.”
He and Fridolfs recently published a spinoff, “Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime,” reimagined classic children’s stories such as “The Adventures of Pinocchio” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
They’re also collaborating on “Half Past Peculiar,” about a brother and sister who find missing pets and get transported to other dimensions through a grandfather clock.
But perhaps more than any book or character, fans associate Nguyen with his signature look, a luminous watercolor style. While many artists apply color digitally, he uses pencil to sketch a piece and then applies watercolor paint to animate the characters and create beautiful, ethereal backdrops.
The technique yields a distinctive look, and it enables him to work quickly. It’s a default. When he uses the computer to color, he finds it hard to choose among all the options. “I just sit there forever: Oh, it looks good like this, it looks good like that. I think most painters can understand—when it’s done, it’s done.”
Of course, what’s style without characters and story? Nguyen is likely to contribute to them as well. At the start of a project, he’ll spitball ideas with the writer about what he’s interested in drawing.
“Sometimes it can be very specific; if he’s been working in one genre a lot, he’ll like to creatively flip it and do something visually different,” Fridolfs says. “Or maybe he hasn’t drawn a certain type of character, or vehicle, or creature that he’s just itching to have fun with. And sometimes he’ll come with a story beat or idea for a scene he’d like to include.
“It’s fun collaborating with someone as creative as Dustin, because it only fuels my mind imagining things he’ll draw, and also gives me spontaneous ideas as we craft it. … And there’s nothing better than to be surprised when I see the finished art, where Dustin might add some character or funny visual into the background that he’s cooked up, that I’m seeing for the first time.”
Nguyen recalls how his collaboration with Lemire on “Descender” and “Ascender” came about. They’d known each other for years since both worked for Vertigo, an imprint with DC Comics, and had met frequently at conventions. One day he got a call from the writer: “ ‘Let’s do something together.’ He’s like, ‘There’s this story I want to do having to do with kids, and this little boy and robots.’ I was like, ‘Dude, I love drawing robots; let’s do this.’ It was easy as that.”
Published by Image Comics, the story spins on Tim-21, the child companion robot, and his struggle to survive in a universe where robots are outlawed. The books are filled with androids of all sorts—the cute dog-like Bandit; Tim-21’s dim but powerful protector, Driller; giant robot invaders called Harvesters—but Nguyen believes the popularity of the series rests in its believably human drama.
“No matter what the story or setting is, I think ‘Descender’ sticks to being about family. It’s rooted in a very small emotional story, and it doesn’t matter how big the backdrop is. I think that’s what people enjoy about comics. That’s what I enjoy about them,” he says.
“I was never very big on things that are so epic. I enjoy superhero movies, but sometimes they’re just too epic. I can’t believe the world is going to end if this guy doesn’t get this tape to this destination. But something that’s about family and emotions, that grabs me.”
For example, there’s a sequence with Andy, the human boy Tim-21 has been programmed to befriend, and Andy’s mother, the chief engineer at the mining colony. When the colony comes under attack and a leak occurs in the mine, she rushes Andy to the launch of the last shuttle. He doesn’t realize until the last minute that she’s staying behind to try to fix the leak and save lives.
“It’s sad as hell! You have no idea. I read the scripts, and I go, ‘Oh, Jeff, what are you doing to me? Now I gotta draw this.’ ”
Wrenching, for sure, but it’s in service to a good cause. “We just want to make good books. We never really aim for an audience. Even with ‘Li’l Gotham,’ they wanted to make it a children’s book, but Derek and I said, if we want to make it all ages, let’s make it truly all ages where kids can enjoy it and older people can read it and it’ll still be entertaining. Let’s just make good books. That’s what we’ve always aimed for.”
When my kids were in elementary school, I took them on a short hike to Barbara’s Lake, part of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park off Laguna Canyon Road. “Will we see bears and other wild animals?” they asked with excitement rather than fear.
I had to disappoint them. “No, there are no bears, no leopards, no giraffes in our wilderness parks.”
But a decade earlier, they might have seen a hippo, I told them. Bubbles. In 1978, she escaped from a wild animal park in Irvine and submerged her hefty self into the lake’s welcoming waters. There she stayed for more than two weeks, occasionally surfacing, eluding capture until she was
finally darted and sedated.
My sons loved that story.
While hiking recently, thinking about that long-ago day with my kids—and how I’d told them the story about Bubbles when they asked me about wild animals—it struck me that “wild animals” almost invariably conjures up images of large (usually African) mammals.
Ask a friend, or a kid, to name the first three wild animals that come to mind. Elephant, anyone? Rhino? Jaguar?
Why is that? A friend muses that “wild” implies “exotic.” Another theorizes that it suggests “ferocity along with size.”
Was that why, 20 years ago, when my visits to Orange County’s wilderness areas were rare indeed, I didn’t just say to my sons, “No bears, but we might see a bobcat, or coyotes, or a red-tailed hawk”?
Maybe. My response mostly reflected sheer ignorance about the wild creatures that do populate our county’s coastal scrub brush and oak woodlands. As a single working mom in those days, my O.C. was office buildings, beaches, and an occasional (dreaded) visit to Disneyland to please the kids. I wasn’t focused on much else.
It took two more decades, semi- retirement, and volunteering for Laguna Canyon Foundation to open my eyes to the wonders of the wild animals that thrive within wide swaths of our undeveloped land.
And to realize that our wild creatures aren’t big, but they’re just as fascinating as any warthog.
I have always been a collector of odd facts and trivia. If it’s true that life is just a series of distractions until you die, then focusing on the wonders of the world is a great diversion. (Did you know that a French cat named Félicitte orbited the Earth in 1963 for 15 minutes—and survived? But I digress.)
Particularly during these times, we need all the escapism we can get. I don’t know how I’d have coped without the trails to occupy my mind and body.
Over the course of this year, helped in part by graduating from a California Naturalist course, I’ve learned that you must never “rescue” a baby bobcat from a tree, because its mother has purposely sent it up there to teach the kitten survival skills. (She will be angry at you if you do, so there’s that to consider, too.)
I also learned that I love the industriousness of woodrats! They build complex nests with a maze of corridors and allocate different rooms for sleeping, storing food, and nursing their young. They place sage over the entrances to hide their scent from predators, and line the rooms with laurel bay leaves to repel fleas. Their nests, a jumble of sticks and vegetation, can be 7 feet tall and last for 60 years, housing several generations.
I learned that acorn woodpeckers are the hippies of the bird world and practice free love. Breeding females mate with several partners and males have a heyday, too. Eggs are all laid in the same nest and the entire clan works together to bring up the babies.
It’s not only the wild
animals that are intriguing. Native plants are, too. Some wild plants are big and ferocious, like poison oak, which causes a serious rash even in winter when the plant is mere dry stalks. Remember: Leaves of three, let it be.
Then there’s toyon, with leaves and red berries that resemble holly, rumored to be the reason for Hollywood’s name.
But it’s the fungi I find most fascinating. They love our oak woodlands and come in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
Many mushrooms don’t smell great. Some odors have been described as similar to rotting fish or (this one’s a classic) sweaty feet sauteed in butter. But others give off the scent of cinnamon, cucumber, or maple syrup. As small as an eighth of an inch or as large as 30 inches across, they last as long as several years or as briefly as 45 minutes. Let’s just agree: Mushrooms are magical.
You get the picture. You want distractions? Walk on the wild side of Orange County and you’ll find plenty. Flora and fauna aside, there’s geology and history to be learned.
I’ve hiked down Willow Canyon by the light of the full moon and imagined the Chumash people seeing the same lunar loveliness hundreds of years before. I’ve learned that the sandstone ridges in Laurel Canyon were once sandbars below an ancient sea. I’ve wondered at a sudden explosion of tiny frogs crisscrossing a trail and, inexplicably, minuscule snails climbing dead stalks of yellow mustard. I’ve listened to the bray of bullfrogs, smelled the fragrance of sage.
It won’t change the world that I know the Tlingit myth about how mosquitoes came to be and the difference between feline and canine paw prints.
I mean, who cares, really?
Well, I do. Because when my toddler granddaughters ask me whether they’ll see bears or elephants when we walk to Barbara’s Lake a few years hence, I’ll be ready with my answer.
“No, we won’t see bears or elephants; but let me tell you about all the wild things that do live on these lands and that we might see. You’ll be amazed.”
From Fork & Knife’s grand opening paella fundraiser to wood-fired brunch frittatas, here is our weekly guide to the latest in O.C.’s dining scene.
Fork & Knife Costa Mesa
The market focused on take-home meals is hosting a paella fundraiser during its grand opening on Oct. 23. Fifty percent of sales from the signature seafood and chorizo paella dish will be donated to the USC Cancer Center in honor of Blackford’s late partner, Doug Garn. forkandknifecm.com
Terra Wood-Fired Kitchen Yorba Linda
The restaurant specializing in Mediterranean-inspired dishes and wood-fired artisan pizzas is expanding with weekend brunch service. Think wood-fired frittatas, bottomless citrus agave mimosas, wild crab eggs Benedict, pulled pork and sweet potato hash, and brioche custard French toast. terrawoodfiredkitchen.com
Party Packs ($65) are now available for curbside pick-up and include guacamole, chicken Caesar salad, six street tacos, and bottled margaritas. solcocina.com/
The New Jersey-style pizzeria founded by chef Andrew Gruel is offering $1 slices of select pies through October in honor of National Pizza Month. You can also take advantage of a two-for-one special on Halloween. https://www.bigparm.com/
El Mercado Modern Cuisine
Stop by to try new cocktails crafted by head barman Cesar Cerrudo. The new drinks feature spirits such as Paranubes Oaxacan rum and mezcal. Come during Taco Thursday or Happy Hour for specials on tacos, margaritas, and entrees. https://www.mercadomodern.com/
Multiple O.C. locations
Try the seafood restaurant’s new lobster “wings,” crispy fried lobster and shrimp tossed in buffalo sauce. The item is available through the end of the month. https://www.slapfishrestaurant.com/
Exclusive Tasting Dinner at Knife Pleat Costa Mesa
Chef Tony Esnault presents a six-course prix fixe menu showcasing the season’s flavors including white truffle from Alba, Italy. Optional wine pairings are available. Reserve a table at the dining room or open-air patio. https://knifepleat.com/
Every Tuesday and Wednesday through November
Fable & Spirit
Dine under the iconic Lido Theater marquee during Fable & Spirit’s weekly outdoor dinners. Executive chef David Shofner designs a new menu every week with optional wine pairings by sommelier Ali Coyle. Order The Pink Flamingo, a popcorn-infused cocktail by Director of Spirits Drew Coyle. https://www.fableandspirit.com/
Oct. 24 Wine tasting Alta Baja Market Santa Ana
Head to 4th Street Market to taste Mexican wine from Vinos Los Angeles and a small cheese plate on Alta Baja Market’s parklet patio. https://www.altabajamarket.com/store/wine-tasting-rsvp-in-person-event
Get a guided walking tour of downtown Fullerton’s haunted history organized by the Fullerton Museum Center. Note: Tickets are sold out for Wednesday, but there are tickets left for Oct. 28.
FRIDAY, OCT. 23
Chef Tony Esnault presents a six-course prix fixe menu at Knife Pleat in Costa Mesa. The dinner has optional wine pairings and showcases the season’s flavors such as white truffle from Alba, Italy. Reserve a table at the dining room or open-air patio. knifepleat.com/
SATURDAY, OCT. 24
The Oktoberfest event at the open-air food hall Steelcraft Garden Grove includes craft beer, special menu items, and live music. instagram.com/steelcraftgg/
The Russel Fischer Car Wash in Huntington Beach is transformed into the Tunnel of Terror during Halloween. This drive-thru haunt, featuring scare actors and special effects, is going on through October. russellfischercarwash.com/terror
Stop by any Newport Beach public library through the end of the month for a grab-and-go Halloween craft kit (while supplies last). newportbeachlibrary.org/
Oct. 28 Watch a free screening of “Live from the Space Stage: A Halyx Story,” a crowd-funded documentary about an obscure, sci-fi rock band that once performed at Disneyland, in Anaheim. Note: Tickets are currently sold out, but you can add yourself to the waitlist at thefridacinema.org/halyx-encore-interest/
Oct. 28 through 31 Walk through a Halloween trail at Santa Ana Zoo for the family-friendly Boo at the Zoo event. Each child will receive a goodie bag to take home. Tickets must be purchased online at santaanazoo.org/boo.htm
What inspired you to switch careers? In 2014, my dad decided to quit his job and go to culinary school. I always had my eye on the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. My dad and I (ended up going to) culinary school at the same time on opposite coasts. It was a lot of fun to share our experiences during that time.
What’s a must-try, East Coast-inspired dish on your menu? The lobster grilled cheese. It’s a party in the mouth.
How do you like Rancho Mission Viejo? We have this big hill in the back of our house, and you can see cows on it. It’s ranch life. There are multiple clubhouses, gyms, and parks. They just opened this outdoor gym facility with an Olympic-size pool.
What’s your Netflix obsession? “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.” He goes around to all these different countries and just tries to find new ways to live a healthier life.
Do you have a pandemic silver lining? It showed us that we have a presence here and in south O.C. Every day, I see at least 10 regulars. It’s just a high-five from our community, like “We’re here for you.”
I miss events. For a beer lover, there’s no greater event than the Great American Beer Festival that happens every fall in Denver. There’s typically a bag half-full of brewery shirts and the other half filled with “room beers”… as if brewery tours, a four-hour session of the festival with 4,000 beers to choose from, and a nightcap at Star Bar, Falling Rock Tavern, or Bierstadt for a famous Slow-Pour Pils aren’t enough.
The pinnacle of the event for the brewers is the awards ceremony, where some 8,806 beers from 1,720 breweries are judged in 91 categories. Normally judging takes place the week of the event over the course of three days. This year, the competition spanned over three weeks because of the pandemic.
Although winning a medal is a huge honor that can mark a brewery in history, breweries that don’t win anything seem to shake it off as a stepping stone. Here are my takeaways for this year’s awards:
Takeaway one: Many of O.C.’s breweries have struggled during COVID-19. Some have reduced staff, cut production, and some have closed for good. It’s somewhat of a miracle the competition took place at all, considering the World Beer Cup (in April 2020) opted to distill most of the competition entries and donate the end product to making hand sanitizer for frontline workers. If there’s one takeaway here, it’s to please support your local brewery.
Takeaway two: Orange County breweries nabbed 12 medals this year, one fewer than San Diego, and one more than Los Angeles county. With only a third of the breweries of San Diego, and less than half of Los Angeles, O.C. breweries consistently prove the beer scene here is destination-worthy.
Takeaway three: First-time winner Docent Brewing in San Juan Capistrano came out huge with two gold medals for Super Tonic Coffee Stout and Hefty Fee Session IPA. For whatever reason, Orange County brewers win in these highly aromatic beer styles, such as Karl Strauss in Anaheim for its Golden Stout (silver), as well as riip beer co in Huntington Beach for The Riizzo Coffee Stout and Black the Riiper Black IPA (silver). Last year, O.C. was awarded two medals for Coffee beers as well, each using Portola Coffee Labs custom blends and roasts.
Takeaway four: German-style beers are gaining popularity due to their crisp lightness and drinkability. O.C. breweries took home four bronze medals with their Americanized versions, including Fullerton’s Bootlegger’s Brewery for Funfest (Dortmunder/Festbier) and Placentia’s Stereo Brewing for Summer Sun (fruited American-style Berliner-Weiss). On the darker side, Laguna Hills’ Gamecraft Brewing won its second medal in as many years as for Umbeereon German-style dark lager (Schwarzbier). TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room in Tustin won for B.A. Dunkel; TAPS has won 26 medals at the festival since opening its brewpubs 1999, most of which for German-style beer, including the non-barrel-aged Dunkel winning in 2019. Prost!
Complete Orange County Results:
Docent Brewing, Super Tonic Coffee Stout, San Juan Capistrano
Docent Brewing, Hefty Fee Session IPA, San Juan Capistrano
Chihuahua Cerveza, Rico American Lager, Costa Mesa
Golden Road, Get Up Offa That Brown Brown Ale, Anaheim
Activities … Normally, we have a wagon ride around the farm and petting zoo. On the weekends, we have a pumpkin cannon, games, and of course the u-pick pumpkins. We also have a corn maze and a sunflower patch.
How the pumpkin patch started … It was pretty much out of necessity. Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, we were mainly a wholesale farm with a couple of roadside stands. We had a main stand in Cypress, and in 1998 we were about to lose that piece due to development. My mom used to take my kindergarten class and preschool class to see the farm, pick vegetables, pick pumpkins, and thought it would be a good idea to open that to the public. So that’s how the pumpkin patch and all our tours came about.
What makes this patch unique … Probably one of the biggest attractions is the u-pick vegetables. I mean, you could go to any pumpkin patch, get your pumpkins, do the games and everything, but one of (our) main things is the u-pick. Kids actually get to pick their vegetables out of the ground. There are carrots, radishes, green onions, and green beans. So they get their hands dirty and it’s hands-on for the kids. You can’t really get that at any other pumpkin patch.