Mazes provide new profits

Oct 082003
Authors: James Baetke

Many haunted houses are filled with ghosts and goblins. A new

type of Halloween activity is emerging in Colorado and is filled

with corn stalks and husks.

At least four farms in Colorado provide a new type of

entertainment, known as agritainment, and they have turned their

cash crop into a cash prop for the fall season. These farmlands

offer a new diversion to those in the Halloween mood and include

intricate corn mazes, pumpkin patches and hayrides.

The business advantages are obvious: farmers can raise their

crops and animals during the planting season and bank on a second

round of profits that would not normally be there when Halloween

rolls around.

“We built the maze originally to save the family farm,” said

Glen Fritzler, owner of his own farm and of Fritzler Corn


Fritzler’s maze is said to be one of the first successful

agritainment mazes in Colorado. In 1998, a piece of property on

Interstate 25 and the Harmony exit was almost the first form of

Halloween agritainment but was shot down by the county, Fritzler


Fritzler’s corn maze in Greeley is the closest agritainment

location to Fort Collins. This year’s maze is shaped as retired

Bronco’s quarterback John Elway lifting a Lombardi trophy above his

head with the words “Thanks for the Memories,” carved beside


Fritzler just signed an agreement with a company that helped

train him in building this massive labyrinth. The mazes he builds

are done by hand and use no mechanical devices.

Financial woes hit Fritzler’s farms due to severe weather and

plummeting vegetable prices that Fritzler’s grandpa would be more

accustomed to, he said. This led to an idea from a family member to

build a maze.

“We got into a pattern of severe weather, predominately hail. We

couldn’t meet the financial obligations,” Fritzler said.

Fritzler’s Corn Maze has been in the agritainment business since

2000 and has added a unique addition to the festivities on the

farmland. Besides the corn cannon or the pedal go-carts, Fritzler

has introduced “The Beast,” an inflatable attraction where guests

literally walk through the belly of a 25-feet high, 150-feet long


“We scare the pants off people at night,” Fritzler said.

The Beast is the first of its kind in the United States and the

largest inflatable haunted attraction in the world, Fritzler


Whether it’s carving out detailed corn mazes for an outdoor

haunted house, letting guests milk animals or giving customers a

chance to purchase or pick seasonal foods like pumpkins, jams and

squash, agritainment is big business.

Dawn Thilmany, a CSU associate professor of agriculture and

economics, said Colorado is the perfect market for agritainment

because there is a large population near the state’s farmland.

“Returns from products have not been as high as farmers had

hoped,” said Thilmany, referring to why many farmers turn to the

entertainment business.

Thilmany believes the corn mazes in Colorado are “saturated” and

suspects that farmers will continue to be innovative.

The mazes bring in school children, group parties and curious

adults from across

Colorado and neighboring states and allow them to enjoy a break

from their urban lifestyle and to reconnect with their rural


Other mazes and harvest festivals are located throughout

Colorado. Anderson Farms is located in Erie and offers a haunted

attraction called Terror in the Corn.

Murray Farms, 11010 Havana St., has cropped up in Brighton and

features tractor hayrides and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.

Burch Maze in Mead, near Longmont, is shaped as a giant cow

grazing on corn stalks and is located on 4225 Weld County Rd. 32.

Jim Burch is the owner and creator of the farm.

“My dad bought this farm in 1934. We’re just trying to keep the

family farm,” Burch said.

Burch said he just wants to let people have fun on his farm and

hopes that this new business will grow. This is the first year

Burch Farm has transformed their corn, barely and sugar beet crops

into a harvest celebration.





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