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AZTEC — La Plata resident Amanda Sandoval helped her 4-year-old son, Angelo Montoya, carry his pumpkin away from a field during the pumpkin festival at Sutherland Farms today.

"We love the pumpkin patch," she said. "We like the different activities. There's more than five things to do, and everybody gets to leave with a pumpkin."

Anglo's excitement could not be contained when he saw his father, Eric Montoya, carrying a pumpkin on his shoulder.

"Dad! You got the big pumpkin," Angelo said.

The couple’s daughter Leticia Montoya, 11, did not shy away from showing the small pumpkin she picked.

"I liked it because I thought it was the perfect pumpkin. It's perfectly round. It was so cute," Leticia said.

D'rese Sutherland, who co-owns the farm, said the pumpkin festival started in 1998 with the purpose of providing an activity for families.

"They enjoy this. It's like a family tradition," she said.

Sutherland Farms, 745 County Road 2900, is situated on 90 acres in Aztec and grows traditional jack-o'-lantern pumpkins, as well as varieties such as Cinderella, Lumina and Jarrahdale.

There is no limit for the number of pumpkins that can be picked, and prices range from $2 to $10, Sutherland said.

The pumpkin festival happens each weekend in October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, and children younger than 12 are admitted free.

As part of the fun, families are treated to a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, where they explore rows and rows of pumpkins in search of ones to take home. Some children warmed up for that task by chanting, "Pumpkins, pumpkins," as the vehicle approached the fields.

Adam Toop and his son, Dylan Toop, 5, were looking for at least six pumpkins to take home to Durango, Colo. Adam said while the family enjoys carving pumpkins, they also keep a few for fall decorations.

At one point, Dylan attempted to lift a pumpkin half his size, then explained his reasons for wanting it.

"Because they're fat and they're kind of fun to roll," he said while sitting on a large pumpkin.

When selecting a pumpkin, Durango resident Ryan Yarbrough said he is more impressed with appearance than size.

Ryan, 13, set his sights on a pumpkin that had rough green and orange skin, and sat lopsided.

"I think it looks really cool," Ryan said, called his finding a "zombie pumpkin."

"It's going to have a vicious fate," Jamie Yarbrough, Ryan's mother, said about plans to carve it.

The "zombie pumpkin" was added to the family's selection of jack-o'-lantern, Jarrahdale and Cinderella pumpkins.

"I think we go out of our way to find the weird ones, a little goofy like the rest of us," Jamie said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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