BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – With fall creeping in around the corner, Harvestville Farms is gearing up for the season highlighted by a new corn maze promoting the Tri-State Rodeo.
Adam, Julie, and Kathy Hohl, owners of the Harvestville Farms just east of Donnellson on Hwy 2, have a cornucopia of events laid out for visitors to the farm and the usual corn maze is back for daylight or nighttime pathfinding.
The Hohls, who try to feature some local business or service group with their maze design each year, reached out to Tri-State Rodeo Chairman Josh Denning to talk about the possibility of incorporating the Tri-State Rodeo theme into the maze this year.
“We’ve been doing mazes for about 13 years now,” Julie Hohl said. “For the last 10 years we’ve been using a maze company out of Utah to help us design our maze. We haven’t done it every single year, but most years, and when we do we try to partner with another local business or service.”
In past years, the maze design has featured organizations like Beck’s Hybrids out of Mt. Pleasant or the Alzheimer’s group out of Burlington, just to name a few.
For the first three years, Adam said they designed a simpler maze themselves with a skid loader and some hand-made sketches.
The maze spans 10 acres this year and Adam said a person going through for the first time might take 30 to 40 minutes. However the couple is offering flashlight mazes on Saturday nights and Adam said that might take a little bit longer to get through.
The relationship with the Tri-State Rodeo came about pretty easily.
“This year we were kicking around ideas and we love the Rodeo. This works out really well because the Rodeo happens about the same time as the opening here,” Julie said.
“We went to Josh (Denning, Tri-State Rodeo chairman) and Angie (Budnik, Rodeo marketing coordinator) and they were equally as excited as we were. We all thought it would be a win-win for both of us.
Adam said they announced the maze theme on Sunday and got some shared messaging from the Rodeo and the feedback has been very positive.
The maze is designed with a clown distracting a bull and the words “Tri-State Rodeo” at the top of the design.
Entry into the maze, which runs Saturday, Sept. 2 through Oct. 31 is $6 per person and children 2 and under are free during the day. The Saturday night flashlight maze is $8 per person except for the kids 2 and under.
Julie said they also built a smaller maze not connected with the 10-acre maze for younger children or families with less time.
“If you have families with small children and don’t want to be in there that long. we do have that option and it’s free to them. That takes about five to seven minutes and it’s the same maze we use for school field trips.
Adam said the maze isn’t tough to create and only hurts the yield a small amount.
“Our first maze took three days to mark it and two more to cut. Now we can have it done in a day and a half. Once we decide on a design, the Maize Co in Utah that Harvestville farm partners with sends a blueprint that Adam then plots on a grid and then we mark it when the corn is about two inches tall. That’s when it’s easier and you can still see the whole field.”
He said he plants the corn closer together to increase the population of stalks so people going through the maze can’t see through the corn very well, so yield loss is kept at a minimum.
Another new attraction coming this fall will be a pumpkin jumper. Julie said the company has brought in a 30’x70′ inflatable pumpkin that people can jump up and down on. There are also going to be new food options at different locations including the second play area and by the maze.
AirEvac, pending no emergencies, will be making a landing on Sept. 24. On September 23rd the pumpkin patch and horse drawn wagon rides will be open and visitors can go into the patch and pick their own pumpkins. Nauvoo On The Road will be on site on Oct. 7 doing demonstrations on brick and rope making. On Oct. 15 Bobby Reid will skydive onto the property and on Oct. 28 and 29 there will be a pumpkin painting session for kids.
For more information, visit www.harvestvillefarm.com or contact Harvestville Farms at 319-470-1558.