Papa’s Pumpkin Patch preps for 2019 season with one member missing

BISMARCK, N.D. - A piece of the puzzle is missing this year from Papa's Pumpkin Patch.

Photo Courtesy: Papa’s Pumpkin Patch

Tracy Finneman, whose family started the business in 1983, passed away earlier this year. As the staff prepares to open for another year, the whole family is continuing to honor Finneman's memory.

The color is brightening up the fields at Papa's Pumpkin Patch. With just a few days until opening, staff and volunteers are working round the clock to make sure every piece is ready for the public to walk through the gates on Sunday.

“We're not focusing on the hard, we're focusing on the okay we've got to put this together, here's how we see it, this is what's going to make the difference for a child, let's go,” co-owner Dave Pearce said.

Pearce and his extended family are putting out pumpkins, scarecrows, picnic tables and more. But, they're without one of their constants this year. Pearce's sister Tracy, one of the driving forces behind the pumpkin patch passed away in February.

“When I come here, I get emotional but yet I see celebration, the celebration of life you know, you see her touch, feel, everything around you that she was about,” Kay Finneman, Tracy’s aunt said.

Finneman says her niece was the one who would make the designs of the produce in the yard, and making sure each piece of the puzzle was in place for the public.

“She was always, ahhh, no worries it didn't come okay we had it thinking about that way so it came out sort of this way, ahh no worries it'll go it'll be just fine, it'll be just fine, no worries,” Pearce said.

Pearce says they're continuing on asking themselves what would Tracy do when they're not sure what to do.

“She is very much alive in the day to day, the moment to moment activities that happen here, and Sunday's going to come and we're going to open and she's not going to be here and she's not going to be at the end to shake her booty and say alleluia in the same way she was a year ago but by crickey that's what we'll do,” Pearce said.

And Pearce says Tracy was a driving support behind keeping the business going this year, and all the previous years, knowing how much it means to the community.

“She was very much a part of being the support to say go for it give it your all,” Pearce said.

And for Finneman, this season will be a time to look around and remember how much of her heart Tracy gave to Papa's.

“She loves this place and it's her second heaven...so Tracy, this is for you,” Finneman said.

Papa's opens to the public on Sunday. Pearce says he doesn't see the last year coming any time soon for the pumpkin patch.