The Rolling Pumpkin Patch

Making a Fall Family Tradition Accessible for All

By Meagan Hudson, Publisher, Macaroni KID Tuscaloosa August 25, 2023

Meet the Dobson family! 

The Dobsons are no stranger to one of many southern staples of family fun: the pumpkin patch. Unfortunately in 2021, the activity they were so excited about turned into a particularly tearful, disappointing trip. Jennifer, her husband Brad, and their older daughter Anna Lee, left carrying more than pumpkins. Lily, their youngest, who strives for maximum independence by using her wheelchair, could not access the muddy paths and needed help from her family to get back to their car. 

For a moment, Jennifer Dobson thought that this special, bonding tradition was no longer an option for her family… until she decided that their family would make the solution. 

With 6 acres of land and a supportive husband, Jennifer decided on a Monday in 2021 that they would hold a pumpkin patch event for “families of individuals with disabilities in the area that wanted - and deserved to have - a barrier-free pumpkin patch experience.”  With the help of friend-owned local businesses, Jennifer and Brad threw a pumpkin patch together, planning for a handful of kids with mobility needs to show up. 

Less than a week after the thought turned into action, over 150 people, including 75 children and adults with disabilities, showed up for the fall family experience they thought would only exist in their dreams. The Dobsons were humbled and encouraged by the turn out, and planned for the Rolling Pumpkin Patch to be significantly larger to accommodate more families in Alabama the next year. 

In October 2022, over 300 children and adults with accessibility needs visited the Rolling Pumpkin Patch with their families. Over 600 individuals visited from all over the state of Alabama, with some families driving from across the Mississippi state line to take part in the 1-day event. The Sprayberry Program at the Lloyd Wood Education Center in Northport, AL which serves children and adolescents ages 3-21 who have cognitive and physical disabilities, reached out to Jennifer about potentially bringing their students on a field trip. The Dobsons made it possible for buses to bring these students for a day of pumpkin patch fun within the week!

Lily Dobson kisses a camel in the petting zoo area of the 2022 Rolling Pumpkin Patch

What Will 2023 Look Like? 

This year the Dobsons are planning the Rolling Pumpkin Patch to be even bigger and better! Basing their setup this year largely on community input, Jennifer says they are “learning to be intentional, so that everything is family-oriented, inspirational, and a blessing,” and that “nobody leaves wishing they could have done [an activity], but they couldn’t” due to accessibility. 

In addition to their pumpkin patch set-up, there will be accessible bounce houses, hayrides, carnival games, a maze, face painting, a petting zoo, family photo stations, snacks, water, and live music. Everything is flat, and everything can be navigated entirely on pavement. There will be accessible portable restrooms, and a private changing space able to accommodate children and adults. A welcome booth at the entrance will provide guests with instructions for parking and navigating the property. 

How Can I Attend? 

The Rolling Pumpkin Patch is intended for families that are not able to fully experience other pumpkin patches due to accessibility needs. This event will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2023 from 11:00AM - 4:00PM at 2900 Tera Lane, Bessemer, AL 35023. The event is free, and being sponsored by local businesses, in order to remove as many barriers as possible for families of individual with disabilities. 

Please RSVP here if you are planning to visit the Rolling Pumpkin Patch this year, and follow their event on Facebook in order to get updates and information as it becomes available. Your RSVP will allow the Dobsons and their sponsors to be as prepared as possible for another record-breaking gathering. 

In the event of rain, the event will be held on Sunday, October 8, 11:00AM - 4:00PM. 

How Can I Help? 

The Rolling Pumpkin Patch is in need to volunteers and volunteer businesses to sponsor the carnival game section, or provide waters, snacks, etc. for the volunteer stands. Jennifers says another big need they have is for volunteers to set up the pumpkin patch the week before. If you or your business or organization are interested in helping to meet these needs, please contact Jennifer at

The Dobsons are not done yet! Jennifer says they are planning to continue this yearly tradition as long as there is a need in our community, and that they are thankful in advance for the ongoing community support they have received.