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Citrus Heights Pumpkin Farmer’s legacy lives on after his death

pumpkin farm, citrus heights
File photo, farmer Leonard Shymoniak pulls visitors along for a hayride tour of the Pumpkin Farm in Citrus Heights on opening day in 2014.

Sentinel staff report–
The 14-acre Pumpkin Farm on Old Auburn Road opened for its 44th season on Tuesday, but for the first time without the memorable farmer who launched the local attraction in 1974. Leonard Shymoniak, the 76-year-old founder, passed away last November, but the farm he built will continue to be operated by his children and grandchildren.

“We’re obviously very sad that he’s not here,” said Yvonne Lowry, one of Shymoniak’s three children who continue to run the farm along with his 10 grandchildren. “We do miss him so much, so that part is hard.”

According to an obituary published in The Sacramento Bee, Shymoniak passed away on Nov. 13, 2017. He was born in Canada and moved to the Sacramento area in 1972, later buying the farm at 7736 Old Auburn Rd,. which soon opened to the public as The Pumpkin Farm.

“He saw a need to bring our community together, because there was nothing like a farm experience for kids,” his daughter told The Sentinel on Wednesday, noting her father’s strong religious background and desire to be a good citizen. “Each year he would see a new need and add a new attraction. He was very creative.”

The annual attraction has grown to draw more than 10,000 visitors each October for a month-long “farm experience,” annually featuring corn maze activities, farm animals, a 30-foot tower slide, haunted barn, hayrides and more.

“We are continuing the legacy because it’s important to him and the family, and it brings our family together because we all work together,” said Lowry, who indicated expansions of the farm in the future are a possibility.

Guest Column: Reflections on Leonard Shymoniak, the Citrus Heights Pumpkin Farmer

Asked whether the family’s recent purchase of an adjacent property with a run-down home at the corner of Old Auburn Road and Mariposa Avenue were part of a farm expansion, Lowry said that hasn’t been determined yet. She also said the family isn’t sure whether the home can be restored or will have to be demolished.

“It’d be a great haunted house,” she said with a smile. “But we’re not going to do that.”

The Pumpkin Farm is located at 7736 Old Auburn Rd. in Citrus Heights and is open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Oct. 31. The farm is closed Monday’s. More information is available on the Farm’s web site: pumpkinfarm.net