I had driven by many times. I had even seen the family in the fields harvesting. But I had never stopped in. And then she came for a visit - my crazy cousin, Pat, from Ohio.
And so it was that I found myself at Smucker’s Gourd Farm on a cold, rainy, windy day in April. Pat is a painter of gourds – of all sizes and shapes. She makes cats, snowmen, Santa’s, you name it….they are beautiful works of art.
Once inside this expansive shop, I knew from Patty’s comments that we had discovered a wonderful place. She quickly started picking out different gourds and making piles on the floor. Some gourds were big, some the size of a grape, some had long skinny tails, others were a little damaged. It didn’t matter; Patty looked at them all - at least once. Then we went outside to look at the “dirty” gourds – the ones just harvested by the family that hadn’t been scrubbed clean. Patty let out a low yelp. As I followed her gaze, I saw that off in the distance there was a field brimming with even more gourds. I was now thankful for the bad weather…because I knew that if it weren’t raining, we’d be heading down to that field. Patty clearly had a bad case of “gourd-o-mania”.
One of the Amish girls working the front desk asked if we needed any help. Since Pat was looking for a certain type of gourd (don’t ask me – these “gourders” have a language all their own), she offered to look for them in the barn. So we waited. Patty picked out more gourds while I admired the finished ones. Birdhouses, planters, and even a hat were painted for every occasion. I followed the sound of someone singing and discovered yet another teenager painting flowers on a gourd in a small room. We waited a little longer. Patty picked out still more gourds. After about 45 minutes, we politely asked if we could go to the barn.
As we followed a five-year old to the ordinary looking barn, I remember thinking “what could be taking her so long?” But once inside, I felt as though I was in a movie as the place ballooned to the size of a football field. Stacked everywhere were four foot by four foot steel bins – filled to the brim with – you guessed it – gourds. Patty was in heaven. Even I was excited now. We arrived just as the 14-year old expertly backed the forklift through a tight spot to present a whole bin of the specific type of gourd that Pat wanted.
We filled my car to the roof, made our way back to the inn and stored the gourds in the barn. When Pat’s husband came to visit a few days later, she went on another shopping spree. This time I asked John to take some pictures. Patty and John had a chance to meet the owner, Eli, and I don’t think it will be the last visit for Patty.
The Pennsylvania Gourd Society holds its annual Gourd Fest at Smucker’s Farm, just down the street from our inn (The Artist’s Inn) on Route 897. It is scheduled for June 12 and 13 and features classes, supplies, children’s activities, a silent auction, and of course, gourds galore. If you are the least bit curious, this might be just the opportunity to discover if you, too, might be coming down with your own case of “gourd-o-mania”.