When it comes to getting around at the Community Orchard's annual Applefest, the specially built Pumpkin Cruiser is the vehicle to be in.
According to Steve Baedke, who was driving it Saturday, the experience of riding in the bright orange truck is great. Time in a wagon behind a tractor, which is also an option, is just not the same.
"This thing is an institution," he said. "It's a high class machine."
Video of Applefest in Fort Dodge
The sound system can play everything from Mozart to simulated laser noises, and whenever the driver activates the windshield wipers, each with a glove on it instead of a rubber wiper blade, it's a signal to the passengers.
"When that moves they have to wave," he said.
Once in the pumpkin patch, getting the perfect specimen to take home can be an art.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Community Orchard’s Pumpkin Cruiser transports visitors to the pumpkin patch Saturday during Applefest.
Logan Johnson, 13, of Garner, had it figured out. He collected a distorted specimen that lesser pumpkin carvers might have ignored.
"I look for places people haven't been," he said. "The further away it is, the more cool pumpkins."
He had a reason for selecting the almost mutant gourd.
"It's different than all the rest," he said.
While Brian DeRango, of St. Paul, Minn., let his daughters and family friends select whatever pumpkins they liked, he reflected on his own role in the whole thing once they get home.
"I just make sure the Sawzall has good batteries," he said.
Caleb Caldwell, 6, of Fort Dodge, had a pretty simple criteria for selecting his.
"One that's not rotten," he said.
Carter Morris, 2, of Fort Dodge, was enjoying a caramel apple with his mom, Heidi Hofbauer. He was quickly learning that caramel is, in fact, quite sticky.
"He loves apples," she said. "Caramel and apple is just top-notch."
Since they had already selected the perfect pumpkin, they could think about what they were going to carve it into.
"It's got to be scary," she said.
Greg Baedke, co-owner of Community Orchard, explained the fine art of selecting a great pumpkin.
"You need to find a nice orange one," he said. "It should be free of insects and rot and be nice and hard."
Any problem with a shortage?
"There's plenty out there," he said.
The Applefest continues today, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com