McALLEN — Attached to the only building here at Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch is an area to lounge with shade from the heat. This was the idea for little Matty, who was accompanied by his parents, Jessica Jones and Ozzy Garcia, in looking for a little fun at the pumpkin patch on Monday.
Matty and Ozzy wore matching red and black plaid shirts while Jessica made sure her son stayed hydrated. And although it’s Jessica and Ozzy’s second year at Maddie’s, their young boy has the parents beat by already attending three times.
“It’s usually really packed. It’s just that we came during the week so it could be (less people),” Ozzy said.
Ozzy has the right idea about Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch. The attraction has become such a big hit for owner Rick Vega that he invested in two more locations throughout the Valley: one in Weslaco and the other in Mission.
“We expanded in order to have a pumpkin patch closer to anybody who is coming from Brownsville. I went out scouting soon after we closed for the season last Christmas,” Vega said. “I knew we needed more locations because we didn’t have the space here to accommodate anybody who wanted to come.”
Vega has seen guests come from Monterrey, Austin and San Antonio just to come see their pumpkin patch.
Visitors of Maddie’s find rounded hay bales throughout the area, decorated with different paint and specific wood-shaped ears to make the illusion of pigs and cows.
At the very entrance is the perfect Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch welcome, which is decorated with artificial flowers of yellow, brown and orange along with platforms in specific areas for photo opportunities. Different-shaped pumpkins fill the concrete area dedicated for guests to pick out whichever of their choosing.
“Last year, we had to wait three lines for the little trains to get him on,” Ozzy said.
Little Matty, who is drenched in sweat with pink painting his cheeks from enjoying everything Maddie’s has to offer, ran excitedly down the aisles divided by hay stacks with Jessica and Ozzy following him. Matty ran with candy in his hand trying to find the perfect pumpkin.
Jessica offered Matty choices with smaller pumpkins, but he declined. Instead, Matty chose a plump, lighter shade of orange pumpkin.
“Sit down, mommy,” Matty told Jessica after finding his perfect pumpkin. They decided to sit underneath a big tree for shade. As they do, more cars began to fill the parking section.
Five years ago, Vega was scouting a location for a place for his family. He came across the lot where Maddie’s now resides. At the time, the area had been abandoned for eight years. The area had overgrown grass and shrubs that he had to go through the orchid next door. Then, he saw a home came with the lot. He was unaware that it was even there since it wasn’t on the advertising.
Despite the rough appearance, Vega said, “I just threw my hands up and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ It was my first encounter and I knew I was going to buy it.”
To Vega, he saw the land as a nature-like canvas. With his artistic hand, he was able to reshape it.
And shape Vega did. Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch sits on 5 acres. The trails are clearly marked by a dirt path. With Halloween approaching, fake pumpkin buckets are on each side of the trails.
Tangled branches stretch far and meet with the opposite trees to provide shade for the guests walking by. There are certain parts that have cactus at the root of the trees. Keeping the guests comfort in mind, the trails include benches throughout.
“They’ve been fixing it up, little by little. It looks really nice,” Ozzy said.
Besides the benches, there are different places to pose for a photo such as a classic, dark brown GMC truck surrounded by pumpkins.
What all these different areas have in common are the various signs that celebrate the same message: to be thankful and blessed.
This is done by Vega’s wife, Melinda. While Vega focuses more on the space and structure, Melinda focuses on decorating to give Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch that seasonal feel.
“It goes beyond the pictures. The pictures are nice, but I think it’s the experience,” Vega said. “The family experience.”
The Vegas are familiar with family experiences. In fact, their pumpkin patch is named after their youngest daughter, Maddie.
Vega recalls one specific occasion in which Maddie came down with pneumonia in late September 2017. Being a year-and-a-half at the time, Vega’s family struggled as Maddie spent two weeks in the ICU.
Once she was released, although the season for pumpkin patches had already started, it did not slow their plans as Vega traveled north to Amarillo to get the pumpkins for that season.
A few years later, Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch shows no signs of slowing down. Opening two locations has already proven successful with the patches in Weslaco and Mission proving to be popular seasonal destinations.
As for Halloween, Maddie’s in McAllen is holding a special spooky trail with guests getting a trip on the train with unexpected surprises. The price will remain the same.
Maddie’s will be open through the upcoming holidays as well, and will stay open until Dec. 1. Although Vega still hasn’t decided if they will be open on Thanksgiving.
Even though the season will end on Dec. 1, Vega said Maddie’s will undergo a transitional phase on the last week of November, with all locations holding a similar Christmas lights event as they had done last year.