By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Pandemic rules push Pumpkin Maze emphasis to online ticketing to cap Dell’Osso crowds
This year’s corn maze will feature 12-foot wide walkways instead of the 6-foot wide paths shown in this photo from a previous year.

It was a split decision on whether the two  biggest annual attractions in the Manteca-Lathrop area would happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze that drew almost 180,000 visitors in 2019 will be back for its 24th annual run starting Oct. 3.

The Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair  — a two-day event in downtown Manteca that typically draws upwards of 40,000 attendees the first weekend in October and has roots stretching back almost a half century — is taking a one-year sabbatical.

“We want people to know we will be back next year even bigger,” noted Sunrise Kiwanis member Carol Davis.

As a traditional street-style event without secured perimeter fencing the Kiwanis would not be able to restrict access and therefore effectively implement social distancing rules to meet current state health restrictions due to the pandemic.

Davis said the club will still complete the pumpkin growing contest that people entered in July to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin among other categories by the time the Pumpkin Fair rolled around.

Dell’Osso Farms has 50 acres with secured and controlled access except for the parking lot. It was granted permission by the California Department of Health to open as an outdoor family entertainment venue that can follow a list of rigid COVID-19 protocols.


Why online ticket purchasing

is wise for this year’s edition of

Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze

In order to comply with health orders as well as to make sure all social distancing surpass state and county requirements to keep attendees and workers healthy, the Pumpkin Maze that opens Saturday, Oct. 3, and is open daily through Saturday, Oct. 31, will shift the bulk of ticket sales to online.

Susan Dell’Osso noted 75 percent of all tickets sold for a given day will be online with 25 percent set aside for possible walk-up sales. Those walk-up sales may not happen on specific days if crowd adjustments are needed to assure social distancing.

While almost all attractions can operate, there are some such as the hay rides and zip lines where social distancing can’t be assured or else there is requirement of staff to be in close contact with guests such as when they are locked into a zip harness that will not be offered that year.

That has prompted the decision to reduce the $20 admission fee to $17.

At the same time in a bid to get Northern San Joaquin Valley residents to visit Dell’Osso Farms away from the much busier days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday when Bay Area attendance balloons, the admission is being further reduced to $15 for Monday through Thursday.

“We encourage local people to come out the week days when the crowds are normally lighter,” Dell’Osso said.

Dell’Osso said based on Holidays on the Farm online sales for the snow tubing, most people don’t make a decision to purchase tickets until two days prior to their attendance.

To encourage more people to plan their visits farther in advance, Dell’Osso said ticket purchase prices will be refunded if by chance the health department closes Dell’Osso Farms due to COVID-19 progress slipping or it is closed for a day due to weather.

The website will be up and running for online ticket purchasing in the upcoming days.

The hours Monday through Thursday will be shortened by two hours due to no school field trips this year. The hours are noon to 7 p.m. with closing at 8 p.m. The Friday through Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with closing at 10 p.m.

Dell’Osso said new attractions are being added to replace those that they had to suspend due to the pandemic. An example is an attraction that will have separate walled off areas to allow one family at a time to enjoy various Halloween-stele scenes and special effects before moving onto the next scene.

The vast majority of attractions will be up and running with modifications. Many — like the popular pumpkin blasters — will involve primarily basic 6-foot social distancing as well as sanitizing blaster between groups of users. The train will have plexiglass shields installed between seats. The haunted house — heavily laden with special effects — will be devoid of actors with groupings of people entering every 30 seconds instead of continuously.

The corn maze was planted earlier this summer with 12-foot wide paths instead of the usual 6-foot wide paths.


Masks will be required

Face masks will be required, period. The only exceptions carved out are for those under 2 years of age and those with specific breathing issues as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control.

Dell’Osso said the mask rule is non-negotiable and will be strictly enforced.

“We are incredibly serious,” Dell’Osso said. “We feel real fortunate to be able to open.”

Dell’Osso said comments on their website have been 99 percent in favor of the masks with 1 percent rallying against the requirement.

“We will enforce it,” Dell’Osso said of the mask rule.

Dell’Osso noted he large 50 acre site works in favor of being able to handle crowds during the pandemic given the only areas were crowds get thick are in the walkways near the entrance where there are a multitude of smaller attractions. Protocols are being put in place to maintain social distancing in that area.

The entire site will be sprayed overnight with disinfectant.


New rules mean no

non-profit volunteers

The pandemic version of the Pumpkin Maze will employ 350 to 400 workers as opposed to 600 normally.

There will be no opportunity for volunteers to raise money for non-profits due to rigid COVID-19 training  and insurance requirements that reflect the new COVID-19 reality.

Dell’Osso said that will mean a big hit for a club she belongs to — the Lathrop Rotary.

“It (the Pumpkin Maze) is their biggest fundraiser of the year,” Dell’Osso said.

The cancellation of the Pumpkin Fair means Manteca-based non-profits will miss out on more than $50,000 in the coming year from profits that the Sunrise Kiwanis normally distributes to community organizations.

An unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic is the cancellation of the Special Access Day on the Friday prior to the maze opening to the public.

“It makes me very said (given) it is such a great event,” Dell’Osso said.

Organizers felt it would be next to impossible to enforce social distancing given attendees are constantly hugging each other.

The Dell’Osso website can be found at


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email