• WHAT: 13th annual Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze
• HOURS: Open daily through Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The attractions stay open until the last person is through.
• WHERE: Interstate 5 at the Manthey Road exit between the San Joaquin River and Interstate 205 in Lathrop.
• FOR MORE INFO: Go to www.pumpkinmaze.com
More than 20,000 people have already wandered through the three corn mazes on 25 acres at the 13th annual Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze.
The Northern San Joaquin Valley fall tradition is attracting a lot of attention with its new rope and tower confidence course as well as a carnival-style spinning pumpkins ride in addition to the zip line, train, revamped haunted house, the pumpkin blasters and assorted other endeavors.
But the biggest question that staff is getting asked so far is about the skating rink under construction.
“Everyone seems excited about it,” Susan Dell’Osso said.
The skating rink will debut along with the return of the snow tubing hill on manmade snow the Friday after Thanksgiving through Dec. 31 as part of the Holidays on the Farms.
Until them, though, Ron and Susan Dell’Osso will have their hands full with what is on track to be a record crowd of 150,000 people should current attendance trends continue and the weather stay warm.
“It really starts to ramp up in the coming weeks,” she said.
A steady stream of people flocked to the attractions Saturday. There is no charge for parking or to simply wander around the grounds. People can also bring their own food and drinks and have a picnic under shade canopies or on the grass. There are even some activities such as the pedal cars that are free.
The pumpkin patch where kids young and old can wander among rows of gourds of all shapes, sizes and color to pick out their Halloween pumpkins is also a major attraction.
Dell’Osso noted there has been a wedding already in the pumpkin patch.
Another couple became engaged in the pumpkin patch with the boy friend making arrangements in advance to have an engagement ring placed inside a pumpkin and put in the patch.
“We had staff watching it carefully to make sure no one took it and until he had a chance to (steer his girl friend to it and pop the question),” she added.
Another couple that met at the pumpkin maze last year on a blind date is returning this year to have their engagement photos taken in the pumpkin patch.
It fits into the vision that Ron Dell’Osso had when he first launched the pumpkin maze 13 years ago.
“I want to create a place that’s fun for families and is a good date place for younger and older adults,” Ron Dell’Osso told the Bulletin 13 years ago.
Besides the rope confidence course, spinning pumpkins ride, and revamped haunted house Dell’Osso Farms added a third jumping pit.
The rope course involves a series of 40-foot poles, tight ropes, and a “parachute landing” all with the participants strapped in a safety harness.
The Pumpkin Maze drew a record 140,000 people last year when the Dell’Osso Express train ride, zip line, and general store were added to the October repertoire of low-tech family fun. All of those attractions are back this year plus the popular pumpkin blasters that use bazooka style devices to hurl mini-pumpkins at speeds approaching 120 mph toward various targets.
This year’s corn maze designs include a cat, a pumpkin on a hale bale, and a witch on the moon. There is also a riddle game that is played as you wander through the maze.
Based on information gleaned by a national organization of ag tourism businesses Dell’Osso Farms is ranked No. 3 in the nation and tops in California for attendance.
The Pumpkin Maze is open through Halloween on Oct, 31.
The maze has generated more than $600,000 for area non-profits in the last 13 years. Dell’Osso pays volunteer organizations to help staff the attractions. That is in addition to dozens of jobs that the maze provides each year.
That’s when the Mt. Dell’Osso snow tubing run complete with canopy to protect from foul weather starts its run.
That is addition to the skating rink being added to the farm-style winter wonderland this holiday season.
The artificial snow machines that also will supply a snow play area will be in operation this year through Dec. 31. Last year during the initial Christmas on the Farm the Dell’Osso attraction counted 35,000 visitors. The Christmas season events included train rides, the zip line, authentic reindeer, Santa, Christmas trees for sale, 500 decorated light displays, and the snow hill.
The 500 scenes in a mile-long layout that are part of Lights on the Farm can be accessed by a hay ride, driving through it in a car on weekdays or via the Dell’Osso Express from Nov. 26, through Dec. 31.
For more information go to www.pumpkinmaze.com and click on “Holidays on the Farm.”