Pumpkin park is back

Morgan Hill Pumpkin Park at Uesugi Farm opens Sept. 28

Cresencio Munoz takes a break from a busy week as one of the crew members setting up the Morgan Hill Pumpkin Park for its Sept. 28 opening weekend.

The Uesugi Pumpkin Park is back again this fall for its 34th year in Morgan Hill.

A new business entity, MH Pumpkins LLC, operates the legendary pumpkin extravaganza under a new name, Morgan Hill Pumpkin Park at Uesugi Farms, while owner Uesugi Farms continues the liquidation of its giant vegetable farming operation.

Joe Aiello, of Morgan Hill, the owner of Uesugi Farms, said in an interview this week at the Monterey Road pumpkin park that he expects the seasonal attraction to be bigger and better than ever, despite the continuing struggles of his family businesses.

Workers at the pumpkin park this week were busy putting the finishing touches on all of the favorite attractions—the giant corn maze, two miniature trains, scarecrows and of course, tens of thousands of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes.

Crystal Melton, general manager of the new company, said the park this year is adding a giant kids’ slide to its menu of fun, and has added more lights so the hayrides will continue until closing time.

Previous years have attracted up to 100,000 people through the park’s five-week season. The park opens Sept. 28 and continues through the month of October. The autumn attraction, at 14485 Monterey Road, has a San Martin address, but it is located within Morgan Hill’s southern boundary.

Melton added that she designed the corn maze this season to pay tribute to local heroes—first responders. 

“In addition to the corn maze, we will be holding a ‘first responders day’ so that anyone who shows proof of employment will receive 25 percent off all ticket booth sales and one free pumpkin with purchase,” she said. “From 3pm-6pm we will have multiple officers from different departments here along with their vehicles. You will have the opportunity to take a picture with a fire truck and/or cop car as well as pay your respects and thank all these first responders who get up every morning to keep all of us safe.”

MH Pumpkins was formed in early February, after Gilroy-based Uesugi Farms had announced in January it would be shutting down its extensive farming operations and selling off all of its farm equipment. The new company also operates the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch a few miles north, at the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bailey Avenue between San Jose and Morgan Hill, according to Melton. Gary Tognetti of B&T Farms, 4790 Monterey Road in Gilroy is listed as the principal member of MH Pumpkins.

Uesugi Farms was a major regional producer of a multitude of crops including peppers, corn and pumpkins. It planted no crops in 2019.

General manager Pete Aiello, Joe Aiello’s son, told AgNet West in 2018 that labor costs and availability had put a strain on the family business. 

“It’s been an ongoing problem for several years for us, but it’s become severely dire in the last three years,” Aiello told the farm magazine. “It’s gotten to a point where our business does not have a sustainable model.” 

The liquidation auctions began later that year.

Pete Aiello this week said in an email to this newspaper, “We’re hanging in there.”

“With regard to the liquidation of Uesugi Farms, unfortunately, it’s still ongoing, so I can’t yet comment.”

For more information, go to morganhillpumpkins.com.

Scenes from the Morgan Hill Pumpkin Park.

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