FARMINGTON — About 15 years ago, Sutherland Farms started a pumpkin festival by selling pumpkins from a truck.
"It just grew from there," said Amy Sutherland, who co-owns the farm.
On weekends through October, families gather at Sutherland Farms to wander through the corn maze, leap into the corn pit and select their pumpkins. This year, the farm added a gem dig.
The corn pit, though, remains a favorite. Two slides set up on hay stacks plunge children into deep pits filled with dry corn kernels.
Brandon Lopez, 7, loves the festival so much that he chose to attend it for his birthday on Saturday. He said his favorite part is the corn pit because "you can bury yourself and jump off."
Rhonda Young, of Albuquerque, and her two children attended with him.
"We brought them down because we thought the kids would enjoy it, and they obviously do," said Brandon Lopez' mother, Bobbi Lopez.
Holly and Terry Hook, of Aztec, brought their 15-month-old son, Silas, to the farm.
"We didn't realize it was such a wonderful thing here," Holly Hook said.
While Silas was scared of the corn gun, which shot corn at targets, his mom said the corn pit was "right up his alley."
In fact, when Silas' dad picked up the boy, the toddler began to cry because he thought his father was removing him from the corn pit.
The pumpkin patch is another favorite for festival attendees.
Christina and Roy Brown started going to the festival five years ago, when their son, Micah, was 2. Since then they have had a second son, Jaden, who is now 3.
"Me and my brother love the pumpkins," Micah Brown said.
Micah Brown selected his pumpkin based on its large stem.
He said his favorite part of the festival this year was riding on the "barrels," which were shaped like cows and pulled by a tractor. He said he enjoyed "letting my brother ride on my lap."