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posted: 6/17/2013 6:02 PM

Suburban 'pumpkin man' brought the country to city folk

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  • Wayne Goede next to the clock on the farm.

    Wayne Goede next to the clock on the farm.
    Courtesy of David Plote

  • Wayne Goede, in 1942, with a carved pumpkin atop the farm truck.

    Wayne Goede, in 1942, with a carved pumpkin atop the farm truck.
    Courtesy of David Plote

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

Wayne Goede grew up on his father's Des Plaines truck farm, driving vegetables into Chicago. Along with the farming industry, he also learned something important about city dwellers: They wanted to experience country life.

When his parents lost their farm to the construction of the Northwest Toll Road in 1960, they moved to a 40-acre farm in South Barrington. Goede eventually drew on his theory to develop an October Pumpkin Festival as a way to draw people from the city.

Over the course of the next 35 years, the Plane View Pumpkin Farm would draw as many as 40,000 visitors each week, from the city and the suburbs, starting in mid-September and lasting through Halloween.

Goede died on June 9 at his retirement home in Sun City, Ariz. He was 75.

"He wanted to give people a reason to get away from the city," says his nephew, David Plote of Scottsdale, Ariz., "and see what life was like on the farm."

That was Goede's working theory from the start, but each year, he added more attractions to his Plane View Pumpkin Farm making it into an entertainment destination, that would drive more traffic to the site.

Some of the activities included pony rides, horse drawn wagons pulled by Clydesdale horses out to the pumpkin patches, tractor-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo, carousel, train ride and even potbelly pig races, with children using Oreos to entice them across the finish line.

Goede had the Good Witch of the North greet families, signaling they had arrived in a magical place, and weren't in the city any longer.

"It all added up to an average of a three-hour stay," Plote adds, "and 100,000 happy visitors during the last two years."

Goede's poor health caused him to sell the farm in 1995 to developers who built an 18-home subdivision. An auction that same year sold off as many as 1,500 items from the farm, from wagons and fixtures to farm tools.

Some of the trappings from the working farm went to Schaumburg Park District's Volkening Heritage Farm.

Without a family of his own, Goede's sale ended the family's long history in the farming business, but he looked back on his years as a pumpkin farmer, fondly, says his nephew.

"He loved seeing people happy," Plote says, "and seeing children and their parents celebrating the fall season out in the country."

Besides his nephew, Goede is survived by his sisters Barbara Ann Goede of Santa Fe, N.M.; and Janice Rae (Raymond) Plote of Huntley; as well as another nephew and niece; and five great nieces and nephews.

A wake will begin at 9:30 a.m. until a 10:30 a.m. service on Tuesday at Morizzo Funeral Home, 2550 Hassell Road in Hoffman Estates.

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