Galloping Goat Pumpkin Patch organizer Max Wade said the annual event will return to Rio Rancho this October. Matt Hollinshead photo.

Galloping Goat Pumpkin Patch will make its long-awaited return to the City of Vision, after the COVID-19 pandemic took it away last fall.

“It’s fantastic. The country — the world — is all in need of being able to have a little a bit of a distraction from what’s going on in the world. Fall is such a family, community-type time of year,” Galloping Goat Ranch owner Max Wade said.

The event will occur throughout the month of October, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

“We’re 100 percent full-go. We’re in the midst of setting it up right now,” Wade said.

With last year’s event canceled, he said his establishment opted to assist the City of Rio Rancho with a drive-thru “pick-your-pumpkin” activity at the Rio Rancho Events Center. He also said the state’s COVID-19 restrictions last year were too much for Galloping Goat Ranch to run its pumpkin patch event the way it normally does.

Entering this year, Wade’s more optimistic the event can be held safely because of the improved COVID-19 outlook.

He said the pumpkin patch’s requirement on face masks, vaccines and crowd size are still to be determined because they’ll depend on the state’s guidelines come October.

“It’s an outdoor event. We’re going to follow whatever COVID regulations are in place at the time,” Wade said. “Right now, we are watching what the State Fair is doing, what Balloon Fiesta’s doing. The state required the State Fair to have a vaccination requirement. My understanding was a lot of that (is) because it’s a state-run event on state property. Balloon Fiesta at this particular point, as far as I know, is requiring a mask mandate for large crowded areas.”

If face masks or vaccinations will ultimately be required, he said Galloping Goat Ranch will be ready to implement such protocols.

“We’re just trying to leave it up to the experts out there to tell us what really needs to be done,” Wade said.

He said the pandemic got everyone out of their normal routine during the holidays, so having the pumpkin patch return will help restore some semblance of normalcy.

“Our pumpkin patch has become a family tradition for a lot of people in the Rio Rancho and Albuquerque community. (The pandemic) disrupted it last year to not have it, to not be able to come out and spend the day with your kids,” Wade said. “We’re excited for that opportunity for people to be able to do that again this fall.”