Where: 2665 Sperry Ave., just east of the Delta-Mendota Canal
When: Sept. 28 to Oct. 31, Friday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: Corn maze and courtyard, $9 adults, $7 children ages 5 to 12; courtyard, regular corn maze and haunted maze, $12 adults, $10 children; courtyard only, $5 per person; children age 4 or younger enter free with paying adult.
Info: 892-2015 or www.fantozzifarms.com
What better way to make an ode to the fall season than by trimming festive crops into the likeness of your favorite football player? That is what the Fantozzi family reckoned when they decided on a joint effort to promote the fall festivities with a Colin Kaepernick corn crop for their 11th annual corn maze.
As in years past, Idaho-based MazePlay created the maze with a tractor and a GPS system after the Fantozzi’s explained their concept. Paul Fantozzi, who runs the attraction with his wife, Denise, sought help from their kids in choosing this year’s theme.
“We chose Kaepernick because we wanted to honor his success,” said Denise Fantozzi. “We also thought it was a great idea to support Camp Taylor, Kaepernick’s charity of choice. Camp Taylor supports children with heart disease and heart defects. We decided to donate one dollar for every ticket sold this year to the charity.”
As an added bonus, the Fantozzi’s have been working closely with a Camp Taylor coordinator to bring the children down for a special visit.
The Fantozzi family’s attraction started in 2003 with a corn maze shaped like a witch on a broom, a small maze of hay bales, a hay bale pyramid and boxes of corn seed where children can play. Now, the family’s efforts have grown into a spectacular event that keeps patrons visiting for years to come.
Through the years, the Fantozzi’s have added an abundance of activities, including a popular nighttime “haunted maze” filled with the spookiest of ghouls during the weekends. Pig races and corn cannons that launch ears of corn dozens of feet towards targets also add to the splendor while allowing shooters the opportunity to win a souvenir pumpkin.
“We are hoping for as many people as we can get to come out,” said Denise. “We usually get around 5,000 to 7,000 people a year. If the weather is good, then we are hoping for a good attendance.”
During the week, the family farm is busy with field trip events, which entice youngsters. According to the Fantozzi’s, Northmead Elementary has already reserved field trips, as well as schools from Newman, Gustine, Turlock and Modesto.
“When the school kids come, we rotate through four different stations,” said Denise. “The kids get a chance to learn about the life cycle of plants, then watch a little movie. After that, they take a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, then play in the courtyard before watching the big pig race.”
Denise Fantozzi says the biggest attraction is the pig race, which allows kids a chance to squeal with delight. This year, however, the Fantozzi’s have added a new program, called Farm Tracks.
The premise is mainly geared towards five to 10-year-olds, who enter a maze filled with animal tracks. The children are armed with a sheet of paper, where they are to record their findings. When they come out, they have to identify the tracks.
“We also have the farm scene investigation and checkpoints for the older kids,” said Denise. “Then we have the ever popular haunted maze. There is something for everyone this year.”
The family also accommodates out-of-towners just off the freeway, but are just as welcoming to the “familiar faces” they see every year. And everyone is just as glad to see Mr. Corn, the mascot, once more.
“We just want to encourage people to come out and have fun while supporting a good cause,” said Denise.
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext.24, or firstname.lastname@example.org