Change Font Size:   A A A

Nov 21, 2011 | Jim Mulford

Episcopal Pumpkins...Really?

“No we’re not.”

“Yes we are.”

“No, let’s not do this.”

Yes, let’s do it.


Twelve years ago the rector prevailed in this discussion and today St. Richard’s, Round Rock, has one of the largest pumpkin patches in the area each fall. It has continued to grow with a lot of support from church membership, especially Brian Beals, known affectionately as St. Richard’s “Pumpkin Dude.”


St. Richard’s orders pumpkins from a farm in New Mexico owned by Native Americans. That first year, a worn and tattered tent was pitched, a few pallets of pumpkins arrived along with the rain and unseasonable cold weather. The tent leaked and finally collapsed, but a group of less-than-organized parishioners started hawking pumpkins to any and all who dropped by St. Richard’s campus and, surprisingly, sold a whole lot of pumpkins. Enough to do it again the next year.


Fast forward to October 2011.  The tent is large and sturdy, pallets stretching across the campus, neatly laid out, air-cooled semis arrive from New Mexico, and the cacophony of happy children begins once again. St. Richard’s takes checks, cash or credit cards as the activity heats up with countless volunteers from the church, young and not-so-young unload the trucks. Some work in the Patch, command the sales table, treat the children with popcorn and direct traffic. Others offer tours of the church and invite people to come back for worship. Everything to make the Patch run smoothly came together under Beals’ eye.


St. Richard's Pumpkin 1 St. Richard's Pumpkin 2


“It’s a thrill to see the smiling faces of the children and adults as they take pictures and then pull their pumpkin wagon to the sales tent,” Beals said.


The stats keep Beals coming back for more. Each year he works for several months to plan and execute the church’s outreach project.  This year:

  • 244,500 pounds (five+ truck loads) of pumpkins – that’s 122 tons!
  • 118 volunteers
  • $104,000 in pumpkins sold
  • $9,800 in outreach for the Round Rock Serving Center and Nets for Life
  • $532.50 in wreath, hay and baskets sold
  • $646 in Round Rock honey sold
  • $40,000 net raised
  • 11,600 adult visitors plus kids!
  • 2000 bags of free popcorn served
  • Thousands of photo memories
  • 2,100 pumpkins donated to not-for-profit organizations


Each year Beals says he’s not going to “do” the Patch again, but no one is surprised when the “Dude” says, “Ok, here we go again, one last time.” 


St. Richard's Pumpkin 3 St. Richard's Pumpkin 4


Many churches in the diocese have pumpkin patches. St. Andrew’s, Pearland, offers story time in the Patch for local elementary students. They take the pumpkin patch to the school so the teachers can use their funds for other field trips. This is their 12th year and they went through more than 150,000 pounds of pumpkins. St. Catherine’s, Missouri City, has become a center of the community in the third year of their pumpkin patch and Holy Cross, Sugar Land, orders 40 tons or 5,000 pumpkins for their patch.


To learn more about St. Richard’s efforts, contact the rector, the Rev. Stuart Shelby at and he can refer you to the “Dude”.


No, we’re not.” “Yes, we are.”   And they did…