The first weekend in October is three days away.
For more than a half century it marked the start of the Halloween season in Manteca via the Pumpkin Fair. The downtown event conducted by the Sunrise Kiwanis is on a forced hiatus for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are longing to celebrate all things pumpkins given close to 80 percent of the commercial pumpkins sold in California are now rolling out of the fields around Manteca, you can do so this weekend at the 24th annual Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze.
It has been cleared to reopen with all of the social distancing protocols in place including guests and staff being required to wear face masks.
While it is true there is no rush to visit the Pumpkin Maze that drew 180,000 visitors last year given it is open daily through Oct. 31, the opening weekend is the only weekend when crowds aren’t overwhelming. Ron and Susan Dell’Osso are encouraging local people to drop by on Mondays through Thursdays when crowds — and lines — are at a minimum. But if you want to avoid the Friday through Sunday crowds pumped up by Bay Area attendees and still visit on the weekend this is the weekend to do it.
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 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 per person. Children 2 and under are free. Admission covers most attractions.
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.
.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 if it is closed for a day due to weather.
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 hours are noon to 8 p.m. with the closing at 9 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with closing at 9 p.m. Sunday hour are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with closing at 8 p.m.
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.
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 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.
The Dell’Osso website can be found at pumpkinmaze.com.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org