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Pumpkins And Train Make Perfect Pair
Take a train ride and get a pumpkin. That's what visitors get who head out to Butch and Sherry Schappacher's farm near Lebanon, Ohio.
  What started 17 years ago as a field trip for preschoolers has grown into farm tours, hay rides, a corn maze, a pumpkin giveaway, and other farm-related activities for up to 3,000 students each fall.
  From late September to the end of October, the Schappachers' 30 by 40-ft. shop becomes a rural store filled with apples, pumpkins, homemade jellies and jams, and snacks. For the past several years, visitors have had the option of traveling to the farm by train.
  Each Saturday and Sunday in October, a 1950 locomotive pulls four 1930's train cars and a gondola about six miles to the farm. It's called the Pumpkin Patch Express. As part of the train ticket cost, each passenger receives a free pumpkin and can go through the corn maze, petting zoo, and check out the goods for sale in the farm shop.
  The train makes three trips each day, allowing about 1 1/2 hours for the round trip and about an hour at the farm.
  "We're a working farm; that's what people like about it," Schappacher says. "That time of year people want to get outside in the open."
  Some people enjoy just sitting on a hay bale under an awning, while others wander around the 15 acres the Schappachers plant with 30 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds.
  With as many as 300 people on each train, and many more who drive to the farm, the place bustles on weekends.
  "It's been good for both of us. It gives the train a destination. The train does advertising for us," Schappacher says. The L&MM rail line pays the Schappachers a percentage of the train ticket fee.
  "It's not high maintenance for either of us," Schappacher says. To accommodate big crowds, he rents four portable restrooms and several members of the family are on hand to work.
  Carolyn Abbott, marketing and customer service manager for LM&M, says the pumpkin patch trips are popular with visitors.
  "Last year, we had people scalping tickets," she says, as well as requests to be put on waiting lists.
  LM&M serves about 50,000 visitors a year with a variety of theme rides including: Tea Party Mystery Train, Civil War Train and Clifford's Big Red Train Ride, for example. More information is available at www.lebanonrr.com/history.htm.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Butch and Sherry Schappacher, 3829 S. U.S. 42, Lebanon, Ohio 45036 (ph 513 398-0904; sschappach@aol.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2