Families Focus On A Fun, Safe Place For Kids

Charlotte Minor doesn’t seem impressed with the giant pumpkin her father grew for a contest to benefit Children’s Advocacy Program. Submitted photo

It is heartwarming to hear the reasons the Minor and Genberg families built Pumpkintown.

“When we sit here watching the kids running around, it is rewarding. We hope that Pumpkintown can reach children in all situations where they can have a fun, safe environment,” said Sarah Minor who with her husband, Marshall, and her brother, Jason Genberg, and his wife Nicole own the business.

The concept of Pumpkintown was her brother’s idea.

“It was always the tradition to take my brother’s son, Brent, to Halloween attractions in Great Valley, New York and Waterford, Pennsylvania,” said Minor. “The kids are the research and development team. Brent is eight and is able to be honest. Jason is always running things by him to see if he thinks it would be good at Pumpkintown.”

Local parents are excited because they no longer have to drive a long distance to enjoy a fun, fall holiday tradition.

Marshall Minor shows the Pumpkin Shack to his daughter, Charlotte. Submitted photo

“We spent hours and hours enjoying all of the activities last year. We loved coming. It was very family-centered,” says Liz Gruber of Frewsburg. “My son was kicking and screaming and didn’t want to leave. Some kids had shoes on and some didn’t. It was like being on a farm.”

The Genbergs are the real estate brokers who listed the property. Even though the closing took place less than three months before opening last year, the couples were ready to open. Since then, they have added new attractions and have improved last year’s as well.

“The guys do all of the work,” said Minor. “Every single thing you see here was built by the guys with a little outside help with painting. All of the manual labor is done by them.”

New this year is miniature golf, a scarecrow maze and the Twister Shack, which is basically a hamster wheel for kids, as well as the addition of outside vendors who are selling crafts, kids books, toys for toddlers and babies, candy, children’s blankets and “a whole array of things.” Cider, pumpkins and chrysanthemum plants will be sold again this year. “We love to incorporate local family-owned businesses. There is so much heart that goes into them.”

Nationally-known sand sculptor Todd Pangborn will be on hand and Magic Steve will return with his balloon animals and magic show presentation. Also returning are the hay wagon and pony rides, petting zoo, Cow Train, apple cannons and gem mining.

The Wacky Goat Shack, inflated Pumpkin Jump Pad and giant slide are constants. The giant Pumpkintown photo op chair, sand yard, sports center and haunted house are also to be expected. The corn pit, where children play in dried corn kernels, will be expanded in the future because of its popularity. Another very popular part of Pumpkintown is Petey the Pumpkin, who may be seen going down the giant slide or on the hay ride.

A new gravel parking lot was built in an attempt to eliminate mud should rainy weather be experienced as was the case during their first season. Paths and trails have been covered with wood chips.

“Our main mission was to get rid of the mud. We had an amazing season on the days it didn’t rain,” said Minor. “We are taking a leap of faith and are pouring our hearts into something that may grow.”

Her husband, the son of a farmer, has grown a special giant pumpkin for a weight-guessing game where half of the proceeds will be given to Child Advocacy Program (CAP) and the other half to the winner with the closest guess. Pumpkintown will make a donation to CAP, as well.

The costume judging for children 12 and under will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Senior citizens without children may enjoy watching the kids play and have fun as they browse the craft and vendor displays and enjoy fall treats in the rural setting. The couples are trying to make the fall activity affordable for grandparents to enjoy.

“We’ve sent out over 10,000 discount coupons to every local school,” she said. “Enough for each student to receive one.”

They offer school field trips and birthday party packages in two-hour blocks, which includes tent rental and special food prices.

Eventually, Pumpkintown will encompass the entire 53 acres owned by the families.

“Marshall and I always talk about how time is so important. We didn’t want to do a business that took us away from our children unless it was a business that would be for children,” said the mother. “Thank goodness we have amazing moms who help us. We’d be lost without our parents.”

Marshall Minor works for Chautauqua County and his wife owns Sarah Minor Photography. They are the parents of three-year old twin daughters, Charlotte and Caroline, and two-year old Clara. The Genbergs have a second son, Chase, who is two-years old.

Pumpkintown is located at 3435 Baker Street Ext., Jamestown. It is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 21 through Oct. 27. Regular admission is $10, seniors 65 and over are $5, children 2 and under are free and veterans and active military are free with ID. See more pictures at pumpkintownwny.com and on Facebook.

Minor has shared some of her family’s favorite fall recipes. She says the Scalloped Potato recipe never disappointments. The Carrot Cake recipe came from her mother, Lou Ann Peterson, who claims “it is tried and true and so good for fall.”

Carrot Cake

4 eggs

2 c sugar

1 c oil

2 c flour

2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1 tsp vanilla

9 oz crushed pineapple, drained

2 c shredded carrots

1 c chopped walnuts

1/2 stick butter

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp vanilla

2 c confectioner’s sugar

Dash of salt

2 or 3 drops lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine eggs, sugar and oil. Beat together until light in color. Use mixer on medium high for 2-3 minutes and then set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and soda. Combine dry ingredients with egg/sugar/oil mixture and blend well. Add vanilla, pineapple, shredded carrots and walnuts to mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until done. Cool and frost.

Chicken and Biscuits

1 small whole chicken or equivalent parts


Salt and pepper

1/4 to 1/2 c flour

2 – 3 T chicken base paste or to taste

1 small can peas and carrots

Completely cover chicken with cold water and boil in covered pot until done, usually 45 minutes to an hour, depending on amount of chicken used. Move chicken from pot to a platter and let cool. Strain and reserve liquid from the pot and let cool. When cool, peel the chicken from the bones and remove skin. Break chicken into pieces as you go. Whisk chicken base into cooled liquid and begin heating on medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk water into flour until it becomes a smooth paste. Add flour paste to the heating liquid and whisk constantly until bubbly and liquid has thickened to gravy consistency. Season with salt, pepper and more chicken base to taste. Add chicken pieces and vegetables. Serve over baking powder biscuits and/or mashed potatoes.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Small whole chicken or left-over cooked chicken

1 medium onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 package wide egg noodles

3 to 4 T chicken base paste to taste

1 can carrots

1 T parsley

Salt and pepper

Cook chicken, reserving liquid. Peel skin from chicken and remove bones. Set aside. Strain broth through sieve to remove any particles. Set aside. SautÈ diced onion and celery in pan until tender. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Stir chicken base into broth to taste. Add chicken, cooked noodles, onion, celery and carrots to broth. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Biscuits Supreme

2 c flour

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c shortening

2/3 c milk

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Cut in shortening till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add milk all at once. Stir till dough clings together. Knead gently on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 strokes. Roll or pat to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, dipping cutter in flour between cuts. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle biscuit tops with paprika. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or till golden. Serves 5-6.

Note: For strawberry shortcake biscuits, increase sugar by 2 teaspoons and sprinkle cinnamon on top instead of paprika.

Sausage Sage Stuffing

2 loaves stuffing bread, torn into small pieces

1 lb sausage, cooked and drained

1 1/2 sticks butter

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

Seasoned salt and pepper to taste

2 T sage (more or less, to taste)

Break bread into large bowl and set aside. Cook sausage, drain and set aside. Melt butter in frying pan. Add celery, onion, salt, pepper and sage. SautÈ until celery and onion are soft. Add butter mixture and sausage to bread and knead together with your hands to combine (May need to add a small amount of warm water or chicken broth to achieve desired consistency). Place in baking dish and bake covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until warm.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

1 lb leftover ham

6 to 7 potatoes

5 T butter

2 T minced onion

2 c milk

1/2 c flour

1 can cream of celery soup

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut up leftover ham into bite size pieces. Peel and slice potatoes. Coat casserole dish or crockpot with non-stick cooking spray and then add potatoes and ham. Melt butter in frying pan and then add minced onion and milk. Make a flour paste with flour and water, add to butter and milk mixture. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly until bubbly and thickened. Stir in undiluted soup, salt and pepper. Pour thickened soup and milk mixture over the potatoes and ham, stirring to coat. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, if using casserole dish. Test to make sure the potatoes are soft and cooked through. This oven-baking method creates a crispy top “crust”. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours if using the crockpot to cook.

Sarah’s Sugar Cookies

1 c shortening

1 1/2 c sugar

1/2 c milk

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

4 c flour

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness (1/4 to 1/2-inch). Cut with cookie cutters or a glass. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown on the bottom, approximately 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Cucumber Relish

1 gal cucumbers, ground

8 medium onions, finely diced

2 green sweet peppers, finely diced

2 red sweet peppers, finely diced

1/2 c canning salt

4 c vinegar

4 c sugar

1 tsp celery seed

2 tsp mustard

1 1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cloves

Grind cucumbers and mix with onions peppers and salt. Soak for 3 hours. After soaking, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add ground cucumber mix and bring to boil and simmer one minute. Pack into sterilized pint jars and seal. Makes 8 pints.

Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup

Beef base

1 to 1 1/2 lbs extra lean soup beef

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 to 4 stalks of celery, finely chopped

5 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

Black pepper to taste

1 T parsley

Make beef broth beef base paste by whisking 3 to 4 tablespoons into water. Place beef base in crockpot first with several cups of water. Whisk base into water making a beefy broth. Place all remaining ingredients in crockpot making sure there is enough broth to cover all the vegetables. Cook 6 to 8 hours on high until potatoes and beef are tender and thoroughly cooked.


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