For 27 years the Spiekers of rural Random Lake have invited the public to experience fall traditions in the orange glow of a myriad of pumpkins
Spieker’s Pumpkin Farm in rural Random Lake is a family operation in the truest sense of the word.
Owners Tom and Annette, along with son Ross, have been entertaining school groups and families at the Highway 57 farm since 1988.
“Being able to do this with our family and making special memories is what keeps us going,” Annette said.
The Spiekers bought the farm from Tom’s parents, and his grandparents owned the land before that.
The property has been in the family for at least 120 years, Tom said, and was a dairy and hog farm before becoming a fall destination.
The three owners each have other jobs to supplement the farm. They dedicate about 30 of its 100 acres to pumpkins each year and the rest to local farmers.
Tom works at Badger Tag & Label in Random Lake, while Annette runs a one-chair salon in their home called Studio 57 Hair Salon.
“It’s nice to be able to go from hair to pumpkins,” Annette said.
Ross works at Modern Equipment in Port Washington and helps at the farm after work and on weekends.
They get a lot of help from friends and relatives, Tom said, noting his father Merlin, 81, still drives the wagon for schoolchildren during the week.
“My mom, aunt, uncle, nieces and nephews all help when they can,” Annette said. “We love that this is something we can do with our family.”
Pumpkins are typically planted in May, with more than 30 varieties planted each year.
They are harvested just after Labor Day, and the farm opens the second-to-last weekend in September.
Weather plays an important factor in the farm’s success, both during the growing season and the month it’s open to visitors.
“From trying to get the pumpkins planted to having them getting flooded out or not getting enough rain, there are some sleepless nights and lots of praying,” Tom said.
The Spiekers average about three school groups every weekday in October, more than 2,000 children at the farm per season.
Students get a chance to traverse a mini corn maze, husk as much Indian corn as they like and get a pumpkin to take home.
They come from all over, Tom said, including Milwaukee, Mequon and West Bend.
The restored barn where the Spiekers sell decorative items, including broom corn, dried flowers, scarecrows and squashes, gets plenty of compliments.
“Many children and even older people have never seen the inside of a barn,” Annette said. “It gives them an opportunity to get a piece of the country.”
Besides operating two large tractor-drawn wagons that take about 50 people at a time to the pumpkin patch, the Spiekers also sell concessions on the weekends, have a petting farm and a six-acre corn maze.
This year’s maze theme is the Green Bay Packers, with the “G” logo and “Go Pack Go” carved into the corn.
To create the maze, Tom measures the field on graph paper and manually marks the land with flags and stakes.
When the corn gets to about a foot high in the summer, he and his son cut it into the design three or four times so it doesn’t grow back.
The Spiekers have created different maze themes over the years — like a 25th anniversary design two years ago — but stay away from “spooky” themes.
“We’re not really into the Halloween stuff. We just emphasize natural fall decorations and themes,” Annette said.
When the farm opens each year, many customers are more interested in fall decorations than pumpkins.
With a little more than a week until Halloween, many are now focused on buying pumpkins to carve into jack-o’-lanterns.
“We’ll have wagons running nonstop to get everyone to the pumpkin patch,” Tom said. “It’s crazy, but a lot of fun.”
Tom, Annette and Ross Spieker with a plethora of pumpkins.
Photo by Sam Arendt