LATHROP - It is without a doubt the largest agri-tourist attraction in the Central Valley if not all of California.
A record shattering 140,000 paying customers blasted targets with mini-pumpkins, wandered through three corn mazes, rode the Dell’Osso Express, explored a haunted house, partook in zip lines, picked out pumpkins, and enjoyed a multitude of other low-tech diversions at the 12th annual Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze that ended a 28-day run Saturday.
It shattered the previous record of 120,000 set last year and pushed overall visitors since the maze started past the million mark in paid attendance.
“The only big problem were the lines were getting too long for the attractions,” said Susan Dell’Osso, who along with her husband Ron, are owners of the popular attraction off Interstate 5 just south of the San Joaquin River.
The new attractions this season – the zip lines, the Dell’Osso Express Railroad, general store, and even the jumping pillows – did better than expected.
The lines were also long to shoot off the mini-pumpkins in the pumpkin blasters. It is an attraction that still holds the biggest draw at Dell’Osso Farms besides the corn mazes.
“There’s something that people like about smashing pumpkins,” Dell’Osso said.
While the maze survived the storms without any major problems the same couldn’t be said for Dell’Osso Farms’ commercial pumpkin crop bound for grocery stores. They lost 50 percent of it due to the combination of wet soil and the humidity.
The pumpkin crop was the last thing on their mind Sunday as crews had almost cleared away the last traces of the corn mazes and were starting to put in place the first of 500 Christmas scenes created by lights.
“It is going to be an impressive sight at night from Interstate 5,” Dell’Osso said.
They are gearing up for the first ever “Holidays on the Farm”.
In 18 days the snow hill will open for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 21, and stay open until early March. The zip line and general store will also reopen at that time.
Then on Friday, Nov. 27 – the day after Thanksgiving – all of the other Christmas attractions including the ability to select freshly cut Christmas trees will be open for business through Dec. 31.
“We already have a lot of reservations for the snow hill,” Dell’Osso said.
The snow machine won’t be turned on until two weeks before the opening of “Holidays on the Farms.” It will take that long to cover the 30-foot high hill with a 200 foot drop and a 100-foot run that will be used for snow tubing. The cost will be $15 for 90 minutes of tubing. Plus there will be a 5,000-square-foot kid’s snow play area complete with falling snow that won’t have a time limit that can be accessed for $5.` For reservations go to www.pumpkinmaze.com and click on “Holidays on the Farm.”
The 500 scenes in a mile-long layout that are part of Lights on the Farm can be accessed by a hay ride that includes blankets and hot chocolate at $5 per person, driving through it in a car on weekdays for $10 or weekends for $12 or via the Dell’Osso Express for $3 per person.
Among the other attractions for the holidays are authentic reindeer; a general store designed for the holidays with gifts, fresh baked goods and other items for Christmas; and a Santa’s Hut complete with a couple imported from Iowa that have earned accolades for looking just like the real Santa and Mrs. Claus