For decades, cars filled with parents and children in search of Halloween pumpkins have streamed out U.S. 30 to Sauvie Island. And one island farm has dominated the business: the Pumpkin Patch, run by the Egger family since 1971.
The farm on Northwest Gillihan Road draws thousands on sunny October weekends. Other Sauvie Island farmers haven't been able to match the success of the Eggers' business.
But now there's a war on the island over a copycat pumpkin interloper who locals say has used unethical tactics to steal the Eggers' customers.
The feud involves the county sheriff, reports of theft and vandalism, obscenities shouted from cars, and one of the new business's managers admitting he tore down signs to the Eggers' patch.
The new business, the Portland Pumpkin Farm at Bella Organic, is owned by Mike Hashem. It's been accused of stopping cars on their way to the Pumpkin Patch and diverting customers with free passes to its corn maze.
"His tactics are low level," said Don Kruger, owner of a neighboring farm. "If he was doing that to me, I'd be outraged."
Hashem says he's doing nothing wrong. "[The Eggers'] lot has been full," he says. "That proves there's a need for another farm."
His son-in-law dismisses complaints about the Portland Pumpkin Farm making itself look like the Pumpkin Patch. "They have pumpkins, we have pumpkins," says Johnny Kondilis. "They have hay rides, we have hay rides."
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office got a call Oct. 8 from the Eggers complaining a Bella employee was waving a stop sign on Gillihan Road. A Pumpkin Patch employee took photos.
A sheriff's report says Hashem swore at the Pumpkin Patch employee and said he was going to "bury him on the property." Hashem tells WW he thought the employee's camera was a gun and admits he had "some choice words" for him.
Hashem has already caused controversy on the insular island over plans to turn Big Island Marina into a wedding venue that locals feared would increase traffic congestion.
He says he's had a truck stolen and seen his farm's signs vandalized since the pumpkin controversy started this month.
The Eggers, who are still doing big business this year, say they were once close to Hashem—even going on a family vacation together—and are surprised by the way he's competing with them.
Some locals are yelling and flipping off Hashem's employees as they drive by—something the Pumpkin Patch's Bob Egger doesn't condone. "He started a business that puts a public face on his farm, giving people something to yell at," he says.
"We're patrolling regularly to keep the peace," says Capt. Jason Gates of the sheriff's office, which is paying deputies overtime to deal with the situation. "They need to work it out."
Hashem agrees. "[The sheriff] has more important things to do," he says, "than be pumpkin police."
NOTE: This story has been edited after publication to correct the name of the family that owns the Pumpkin Patch. The name is Egger, not Eggers.