One of the great things about Upstate New York in autumn is all of the absurd little "pumpkin farms" in the area that seem to pop up every year. Some of these are not easy to find, but are usually well worth the effort. They are locally owned and operated and usually contain all sorts of absurd hand-made attractions and displays. We have already written articles about the Cortland and Oswego Pumpkinfests and Wolf Oak Acres in Oneida, and have pictures of several other pumpkin farms just waiting to be turned into articles. Just recently we discovered the Cackle-berry Castle in Camden. Ok, it's full name is Will's Cackle-berry Castle Pumpkin Farm, but that was a little too much to write in a bold purple font on the top of this page.
When we arrived at The 'Cackle we were greeted by a bunch of menacing stares from a group of people in the "parking lot" (by that I mean the muddy driveway where we were directed to park by a hand drawn arrow on a brightly colored piece of paper). This seems to happen to us often when we travel to some of these "out of the way" places. It's as if they're saying to each other, "What the hell is dem city folk doin' here? They're not from dese parts. I says, we'll keep on eye on them, I says.".
Anyway, once inside The 'Cackle we saw two buildings that are usually the main gathering areas in these pumpkin farms, the food stands.
Oh, and by "main gathering area" I do mean just those 6 people in the above picture. The red building offers "Fudge Fer-All" and tickets to the hay ride. Of course there's a damn hay ride! How are you going to have a pumpkin farm without a bumpy ride on the back of a smelly truck with hay poking you in the bottom? You can also see the lovely bathroom facilities on the right side of this photo. I swear, port-o-potties are the apple of the pumpkin farm's eye. What? Of course that made sense. Anyway, the building in the background sold hot dogs, doughnuts, soda, and other fine products for the trip around The 'Cackle.
Turning to our left, the next building we saw was the Haunted House Gift Shop.
The name of this building is a little misleading. You can't go in this building and it isn't a gift shop. In addition to the wacky pumpkins on the outside of the building, there were some mannequins and other absurd things inside the building. Unfortunately, we could not get a good picture inside the building because of the reflections coming off of the glass windows. But, don't go away yet! We were able to get pictures of quite a few other attractions, including...
Yeah! Humpty f'n Dumpty! This 'Dumpty, however, looks a bit softer than an egg. I have a feeling if he fell off that wall, it wouldn't hurt that much.
Turning around, we see...
This low flying witch obviously wasn't too bright. You would think she could avoid hitting that random piece of a wooden fence that was there for no reason. Or, perhaps the people from The 'Cackle found this witch stuck to a fence somewhere else and just cut this portion of the fence off and brought it here. Yes, that's probably it. By the way, I also love the random Halloween-y things that are stuck to every nook and cranny of this place. It's like they bought out a local Dollar Store at Halloween time and just used everything they found.
Speaking of random things, this was one of my favorite displays in the place.
Where else would you see The Tin Man with a lit-up pumpkin head surrounded by characters from Winnie The Pooh and Scooby Doo? Nowhere else, dammit! No one else would be clever enough to put all of these characters together in one display! Oh, and in case you were busy looking at Tigger and didn't notice the giant Tin Man there are some happy, bow-tie-wearing ghosts that are more than willing to point him out to you.
Next up we found the obligatory silly graveyard.
These are almost as common a sight at a pumpkin farm as the bottom-poking hay ride. Of course, there were comical things written on each of the gravestones. I won't go through all of them (or any of them for that matter), because I have a feeling this article will be long enough as it is. Just imagine about 20 versions of the "I Told You I Was Sick" joke, and you'll get the gist of it.
We found this buried in the ground near the food stand.
No, it doesn't exactly catch one's eye and make you want some maple syrup. This is another thing I love about these places, though - the hand written signs. They are usually so brilliantly daft it makes one proud to be a New Yorker. Just look at this one, with its use of several different markers and the comical use of the O's in the word "food". Also, the word "food" is surrounded by several smaller examples of food! Am I the only one who is impressed by this?
We then saw a warning sign about someone named "Devil Dan".
There was, however, no Devil Dan to be found. Devil Dan Dammit!
Behind Devil Dan you can see the line of pumpkin totem poles. No, I'm not kidding.
I don't think I've seen a more impressive use of pumpkins.
Turning to the right of the pumpkin poles, we saw this...
I love it! It looks like the sign was drawn by Mrs. Stinkytrousers 4th grade class! Fantastic!
We then saw what was the name sake of this world of fantasy and illusion, the giant Cackle-Berry Castle!
What the...? This was not exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of the word "castle". Let's see, maybe one of those signs will explain things. The sign on the right says, "If you have a fear of spiders today you may want to take a step away". Well, I had a fear of spiders yesterday, but today I'm ok. Plus, this doesn't really explain the whole "castle the size of an outhouse" thing. Let's get a closer look at that sign on the left to see if it explains things a little better.
Ok, so the wacky folks in this area call eggs "cackleberries" and this building was called a "castle" because.... ah, who cares? Let's see what's inside the "castle" now, shall we?
Awesome! A witch with both a purple hat and a large black hat! For some reason, her feet scare me more than anything else in the room. I love all of the random stuff placed in this room. Remember my comment about the Dollar Store earlier?
This next display is one of my favorite ones on the farm. I know I said that about the Tin Man display. Leave me alone, I'm trying to write an article here!
This display is just too awesome not to visit a little closer. First, we have The Piano Man.
I love The Piano Man! He may be one of my favorite characters ever in a pumpkin farm in Camden, NY! First of all, he's got a giant head and a body that looks like it was run over by a truck. Then, he's got that trendy hat that barely fits on his bulbous head. Then, he's wearing a lovely suit for no reason. His fingers are getting smashed by the piano. My favorite part of The Piano Man has to be that dopey far-away look on his face. Billy Joel wrote a song about this guy! That's how cool he his!
Next in this display we have a prisoner who was undoubtedly trapped by the Ewoks, a very small skeleton and some crazy-dead-bride-person. I love their use of old plastic Halloween masks. This one looks like it might have been an Elvira mask, or maybe some evil queen or something. Again, the randomness of this display is what impresses me the most. Somehow the bulbous headed Piano Man, the Ewok trapped prisoner, and the Elvira bride fit together perfectly. Oh, and The Piano Man had a cute little pet hanging out by his chair as well.
Here's another spooky attraction.
Again with the impressive use of old plastic and rubber masks. The little mice crawling up the sides of the posts were a nice touch as well.
We then entered the actual pumpkin farm. Oh yes, they sold pumpkins. Tons and tons of pumpkins. So many, in fact, that you might just get the urge to run wildly through the field.
Peter Pumpkin is kind of an odd name for a ghost, I do think. Now, let's talk about that ghost for a minute. I do believe that is something else that was made by Mrs. Stinkytrousers 4th grade class as well. It is quite an impressive use of a plastic milk jug and a garbage bag.
Speaking of ghosts...
This one would probably look much cooler in the dark. In the daylight, it looked a bit like this ghost got its dress and hair stuck in the tree while trying to steal someone's soul.
This pumpkin headed person had some great fashion sense.
I'm not even sure where to start on this one. Everything is just so mismatched that they seem to fit together perfectly. I think this would be a great evil character for a horror movie.
On the way out of the pumpkin field, we saw two old buildings.
I believe this is the first time I've ever seen Dracula, a chicken and a fox hanging out together. In the building on the right, the "Ye Old Corn Crib", they sold (you guessed it) that old ass corn that you can't eat so you just hang on your house. I had to go outside the fence to peek in and see what was in the building on the left.
It's Witch Hazel! According to the sign she will grant a wish to anyone who donates to her pot. I threw in a carrot and an eye of a newt. She didn't seem very grateful.
This brings us to the final attraction at The 'Cackle, and I was saving the best one for last.
Yes, it's a huge talking pumpkin named Ms. Pumpkin! Let me repeat, this is a huge talking pumpkin!