With the “unbe-leaf-able” things happening in the world right now, it might seem impossible to have any “gourd” times.
However, there are various corn mazes, pumpkin patches and apple orchards with safety protocols in place that can bring a sense of normality during the fall season.
Wheeler Farms Corn Maze, located in Whitehouse, Ohio, has a different approach to its annual maze, which has been around for more than a decade.
Director of Operations, Christy Wheeler Geha said, “We are all about family activities, especially with times like these. We feel like it is necessary to give people a chance to escape, enjoy fresh air and do something fun in the fall.”
Adjustments had to be made, such as extra-wide paths and spaced out cones in the admission lines. Visitors have a touchless credit card payment option. Masks are required in lines, but are allowed to be taken off once guests are socially distanced in the maze. The corn maze also has three fire pits where guests are invited to spread out and warm up.
“We encourage everyone to do whatever they feel comfortable with, whether that is keeping their mask on in the maze or not,” Geha said.
This year’s theme is “Hometown Heroes” to honor those working on the front lines. The corn maze is separated into three mazes: medical worker, teacher and delivery driver.
Geha said it was easy to pick this year’s theme. “We feel that now, more than ever, we want to recognize people in our community that do so much in a time of so little,” she said.
The corn maze, in total, is six miles long.
“It’s good exercise, it’s entertaining and it’s fun. I definitely recommend it,” Geha said.
The corn maze will be open every weekend from Sept. 19 until Oct. 31. Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for children and seniors. Pop, water and Gatorade are available to purchase along with glow bracelets and necklaces.
Pete’s Pumpkins and Gwen’s Gourds, located on Neiderhouse Road in Perrysburg, is ready for a busy and safe month of October.
This is their eighth year for the pumpkin patch, which is located at Langenderfer’s home. Co-owner of Pete’s Pumpkins and Gwen’s Gourds and BGSU Alumni, Gwen Langenderfer, says she is excited to see families bonding at their pumpkin patch.
“I love seeing all of the families being able to have a good time outdoors with no technology,” co-owner Gwen Langenderfer, an alumna, said.
Their farm features pumpkins, fall decor and a petting zoo with chickens, pigs, turkeys, lambs and goats.
The Langenderfers are following Gov. Mike DeWine’s guideline about social distancing.
“Everything is spaced out. We actually doubled the space this year to allow people to social distance,” Langenderfer said.
They have also limited the number of people inside their shop, set up a touchless payment option through Venmo and cancelled the annual hayride.
The pumpkin patch is open every weekend in October.
Another popular fall activity is apple picking, which is available at MacQueen Orchards in Holland, Ohio. The annual Apple Butter Festival is canceled this year due to the pandemic, but the MacQueen family is still offering apple picking and various baked goods in their market and express tent.
Marlene MacQueen, owner of MacQueen Orchards, said this is the first time in 39 years that the Apple Butter Festival is not happening.
“It’s disappointing. Everyone enjoys the Apple Butter Festival. We had everything there, but I guess it’s just a different year,” she said.
The option to pick your own apples is dependent on the crop and weather conditions.
MacQueen said they only have about 33% of their crop because a frost in May took a majority of the crop.
She said the pick your own option is still more popular this year than previous years.
“I think it’s because people are cooped up and just want a reason to get outside,” she said.
The orchard is practicing social distancing by requiring people to wear masks when near other guests.
Apple picking and other activities are available every day in October at the MacQueen Orchard.