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
“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
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.