The start of the autumn season will be celebrated this weekend with the re-opening of the pumpkin patch at Peltzer Farms in Temecula, marking the beginning of a monthlong celebration during which visitors can pick up huge pumpkins, watch pig races, enjoy a petting zoo and take mini-train rides.

The annual Pumpkin Festival is a tradition inaugurated by the Peltzer family in 2007.

Visitors can stop by an open-air market and buy gourds as large as 100 pounds, according to organizers. Corn, squash and other vegetables will also be available to purchase, or eat at the cafe.

The Peltzer family’s winery will be open for business most days during the fest, featuring products straight from the 25-acre vineyard.

There will be pony rides and short trips aboard a 12-passenger train daily, organizers said.

A giant mound of hay for kids to romp on and a petting zoo filled with goats, sheep, ponies and other animals are also slated to be among the down-home attractions.

The farm’s unique tractor collection will be on display, and the Peltzer Mining Co. will offer visitors a chance to pan for a variety of “unpolished gems” in a sluice box.

The festival will conclude Oct. 31.

Most exhibits are free, though visitors will be charged $2 to $5 for train and pony rides, petting zoo access and panning.

More information is available at

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