Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is a fall seasonal attraction for many in Nebraska. It offers many activities for all age groups. This year marks the 35th season that Vala’s opened in the state.
Due to Covid, many businesses made many changes to meet the state’s guidelines and restrictions. One of these businesses that changed because of CDC guidelines was Vala’s. This fall season, Vala’s implemented safety precautions to ensure the safety of guests and employees.
Employees at Vala’s practiced safety procedures to make guests feel comfortable and healthy while enjoying their visit. Wearing masks, keeping six feet of distance between other people, and using hand sanitizer were all enforced.
In addition to the safety precautions, this year is the first year that Vala’s went completely cashless at any payment stop. This was different than the past years, where there was an option to do either cash or credit payments. The main reason for going entirely cashless was to prevent the risk of cross-contamination when handling cash.
Although this was to prevent spreading the virus, going cashless was one of the biggest challenges for Vala’s. However, for some employees it made their jobs easier.
“It makes my job easier because all I have to do is click a few buttons on the iPad and give them their card back. With that we don’t have to count all of the money before and after the shift which leads us to make less mistakes,” cashier Sara Matthiessen said.
For customers, this year proved to be different then past years especially concerning how rides and attractions operated. Some customers that visited Vala’s this season had diverse opinions about whether or not they believed the safety precautions were effective.
Customer Marianna Wheeler has been going to Vala’s since she was a child and one of her favorite things to do on the farm is eat all of their delicious foods.
“I don’t feel like the safety procedures are working to an extent because some areas around the farm can get very crowded with little social distancing,” Wheeler said.
Attractions worker Halle Benson has worked at Vala’s for two years and was familiar with the differences compared to this season to last season.
“Compared to last year, a lot of things have changed. There are a lot of more sanitary rules we have when working the attractions because we don’t want too many people touching the same surfaces in case someone is sick,” Benson said. “People either don’t want to come to Vala’s when they know it’s going to be busy or they just don’t want to risk getting sick in a really busy public place.”
Vala’s was one of the bigger attractions to stay open regardless of COVID cases increasing. Some employees and customers had conflicting opinions about if the safety precautions worked.
“I hope they continue to use the concept of going cashless in the future because it makes working a whole lot easier and next year when we continue to grow costumers as COVID passes,” Matthiessen said. “Not a ton of places are going cashless.”
“I think Vala’s is going to do a lot more outside attractions this fall season to help them get more money since this year hasn’t been as busy as years past. Which means, year round kettle corn, doughnuts, and pies,” Benson said.
Vala’s could’ve remained closed this season, but with their decision of staying open, many people in Nebraska were able to enjoy a yearly tradition in the mist of a global tragedy. With the safety procedures the attraction implemented, guests were able to decide if they felt that it was safe to visit the farm or not.
“I think Vala’s was fine. I would have felt more safe if masks were enforced at all times instead of just inside buildings and in queue lines. However, I am glad I was able to go this year to have that yearly visit occur,” junior Mallory Brennan said.