Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Festival Fenomenon

In the last couple of decades a new festival phenomenon has evolved during the Autumn of the year. I don't recall this happening during my childhood nor during my children's childhood, but each year bigger and more extravagant Fall festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes spring up - some free and some for a fee.  It has become part of our culture, sort of like the 4th of July.

These days what child doesn't make a trip to the pumpkin patch to select their favorite pumpkin, visit the petting zoo, go on a hayride or a train ride, or get lost in a corn maze?  And speaking of pumpkins - we're not talking about your regular, garden variety pumpkins anymore - no - most patches offer unbelievable variety in shape, color, and texture.

Last year I wrote a post called "Autumn, the Changing of the Guard" and I told you about a harvest festival which took place at Heiser Farms on Grand Island north of Salem, Oregon.  I was particularly fascinated by this fall celebration because of their pumpkin cannons.  These are huge cannons which shoot out pumpkins  propelling them in the air maybe 100 yards and then the pumpkins hit either a barricade (maybe an old car) or the ground and then just go splat.  It's surprisingly exhilarating to watch.  And I'm not the only one who finds this entertaining.  The place is packed. Wonder if this says much about the state of the American mind.....

Nevertheless I thought I'd attach a little video just to show you how absurd it is.
So here goes.........

Aside from pumpkin cannons (and there are many such machines working overtime in October) there is also the corn maze.  Now the corn maze has become a really big deal all over the country.

Located in Spring Grove, Illinois, the Richardson Farm boasts the world's largest corn maze and an experience your family won't find anywhere else.  This experience has something for everyone with slides, a corn bin cabin, pedal trikes and a goat walk for the little kids, and 4 separate corn mazes winding through 33 acres of living corn, a 700' sip line, ORBting (rolling around inside an huge 11foot ball), for everyone else.

East year  the Richardson family designs their ginormous corn maze in intricate detail recognizing a special or significant event. This year the design is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatle's first album.

Although the Richardson Farm claims to have the world's largest corn maze, sadly they have been trumped by a West Coast maze at the Cool Pumpkin Patch in Dixon, California.  Coming in at 53 acres (13 acres larger than 2007's Guinness Book of World Records layout) this year's design is bigger and more challenging than ever before.

Now the Cool Pumpkins Patch promises that this year's maze will have new twists and turns to confuse, confound and delight.  There is even a Starbucks station in the middle of the maze. Wow!  Along with the World's largest corn maze, they also have endless varieties of pumpkins, a scarecrow exhibit and last year's pumpkin-pulverized VW bug.  That's really cool!

As you can see the corn maze craze is becoming an integral part of the fall festival phenomenon. So much so that there is a corn maze website called Corn Mazes America. This site includes a directory and a Google Earth app for checking out all the corn mazes in America on GE.  They also provide services to corn maze owners such as corn maze smartphone GPS app, smartphone games for the customers, design services and, of course, the how-to book - Corn Mazes: Is there a Pot of Gold in Your Cornfield?  Phenomenal!

If you happen to live in the upper Willamette Valley there are many places to visit.  I'm just listing a few locations, so if you live in another part of Oregon go to the link listed at the bottom of the page for many more listings. And if you live in another part of the country, check out Corn Mazes America or use your browser to find a local event.

Willamette Valley Pie Company Harvest Festival open from 10/3 to 10/31 includes Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze (some wind damage), Hayrides, Hay Mountain (with hay tube and slide) and much more.  Salem area, admission fee.

Heiser Farms open the month of October with pumpkin patch, hayrides, petting zoo, hay pyramid and slide, pumpkin cannon viewing, etc. Grand Island near Dayton, no admission fee

The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island open form Labor Day to the end of October.  Corn maze, pumpkin patch, haunted corn maze, hayrides and more. Admission fee.

Fazio Farms open all of October for their Halloween Festival.  Corn maze, tractor hayrides, monster school bus, pumpkin patch, and much more.  Portland area, admission fee

Go to  Oregon Harvest and Halloween Festivals and Events to see many more Oregon listings. There are dozens of harvest festivals going on from the Oregon coast on over to Central Oregon, and from Portland on down to Southern Oregon.  Check out what's happening in your neighborhood.

Ok Jimmy, where'd you put those croissants!


Anonymous said...

What a fun blog! Loved that video - wish I had been there. Also wish I had your camera (or eye) - great pics! Who's Jimmy?

Evelyn Meadows said...

Dear Anonymous - Thanks for the comments and the props. I really appreciate. I use a Canon Power Shot. Jimmy and the croissants are just a way to sign off.