PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sauvie Island farmers like Jim Abeles of Topaz Farm are expecting big crowds and plenty of traffic during the second and third weekends of October as city folk cross the bridge to hunt for the perfect pumpkin. But traffic and seasonal crowds are avoidable if visitors plan ahead, the farmers say.
“If you’ve come to Sauvie Island on an October weekend, you know traffic can get bad,” Abeles said. “With COVID, a lot more people discovered the island, and by 2021, it got really crowded for the mid-October weekends. There are usually three crowded weekends with the middle weekend being the busiest.”
Sofia Kondilis of Bella Organic Farm told KOIN 6 News that visitors can avoid the traffic and lines by arriving early. Kondilis said that weekend traffic usually begins to back up along Gillihan Road by 1 p.m. and can last throughout the day. To skip the traffic, arrive in the morning when the farm opens at 9 a.m.
“Traffic usually is bad from 1 to 2 p.m. to about 7 p.m.,” Kondilis said. “If people come early, they are good. And on Friday and Saturday nights we have our haunted maze, so folks should come early to not miss it.”
At Topaz Farm, the owners have resorted to making weekends reservation-only to cut down on overcrowding.
“My wife Kat and I decided to go with a reservation admission system for October weekends, which made a huge difference,” Abeles said. “We let in less than half the cars that we used to, making for a much more fun experience for customers with minimal crowds and lines. We’ve implemented it again for this October and customers are loving it.”
If possible, Kondilis said that the best way to avoid the crowds is to visit the island on a weekday. Check for seasonal hours online before visiting a specific farm.
“Weekdays are great to avoid lines,” she said. “We have most of the activities running, food and drink and free hayrides out to the patch every day. Even Fridays are usually good days to visit.”