Fall treats that rise above all


Olivia Ray

This is a soft pretzel from Jack’s Pretzel Shack. The pretzels were a new addition to the Vala’s Pumpkin Patch menu this year, and have been very popular. The cheese came in a small container with all the soft pretzel orders.

Olivia Ray, Staff Reporter

Visiting a pumpkin patch may only be enjoyable for children, but going to Nebraska’s Vala’s Pumpkin Patch will always be a thrilling experience at any age. 

Vala’s has a fun family-friendly atmosphere that reflects autumn everywhere you go. The astounding 400-acre pumpkin patch has 26 different places to purchase food and 50 interactive attractions. Within those various food locations there are a variety of prices, qualities and customer service. On Friday, Oct. 29, I made my annual visit to the pumpkin patch excited to see new attractions and most importantly have some great food.

The astounding 400-acre pumpkin patch has 26 different places to purchase food and 50 interactive attractions. I started my day off at Farmer Jack’s Pretzel shack to have an amish-inspired pretzel. I was pleased to see workers carefully making the pretzels through the window as I paid for my $7.00 snack. The price was not your ordinary concession stand price, but this was not an ordinary pretzel. It’s crisp bronzed outside was perfectly salted and not stale in the slightest. The soft, steamy pretzel was very filling and can definitely be shared. However, the cheese dip was lacking in many ways. The cold, artificial cheese had an odd frosting like texture and did not enhance the flavor of the pretzel. All in all the pretzel on its own was worth the price, but the cheese clearly did not have the same amount of intention put into it. 

I began to get hungry after a challenging walk through the corn maze and decided it was time for a stop at the Pie Barn. Although the long line was intimidating, the smell of comfort food still drew me in. As I expected, my cup of chili was flavorful and perfect for a fall day. The servers on the other hand did not appear to match the smiling customers’ energy. I feared the Buttered Brown Sugar Pie was not available when I ordered because it was not in the display case so I asked the cashier. He replied saying that I was at the Pie Barn, and asked me why they would not sell Buttered Brown Sugar Pie at the Pie Barn. Luckily, this unfortunate experience did not take away from the rich flavor of the pie. It’s smooth caramel-like flavor was perfectly complemented by the large serving of whipped cream on the top. My only complaint was that the bottom of the pie’s crust was slightly gooey, but the rest of the crust was flaky and crisp. 

The chili has been served at the Pie Barn since the beginning. It comes with a topping of cheese, but you can request to not have any if you would like. (Olivia Ray)
The Buttered Brown Sugar pie has a large finger crimped edge and a filling similar to a cheesecake. The whipped cream on top was the perfect light topping for this dense pie. (Olivia Ray)

After my friends and I finished out the day with a large firework show, we took the long walk to the front of the pumpkin patch where the Big Barn Bakery is located. The bakery was filled with caramel apples, piles of kettle corn, gallons of fresh apple cider and apples from their orchard. The Bakery was very crowded because you have to go through it to exit the pumpkin patch. Despite the large crowds, workers made sure the lines stayed small and moved efficiently. I purchased a prepackaged, large caramel apple with orange and brown sprinkles on it for $6.32. Because of its large size, I had to cut the apple into slices to eat it. The apple itself was crisp and unlike something you could buy from a grocery store. The homemade caramel and crunchy sprinkles were the perfect match for this apple. If you only get one thing from Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, I would hope this sweet treat would be it.

All in all, I believe that Vala’s Pumpkin Patch deserves its place as a fall staple in Nebraska. From the atmosphere of the restaurants, the flavorful diner and the homemade desserts, Vala’s cannot be replicated. I would give my dining experience a 9/10 rating. Although the large cost and lengthy lines may scare you away, I promise this experience is worth it.