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Farms ready to scare up Halloween fun
Though it's all a lot of fun and games, the folks at Maris Farms take their scaring seriously.
"We start in November," Dale Maris said with a laugh. "This is absolutely a passion for us."
This year, Maris's passion for scaring people expands again, with the addition of a new attraction that he says he's been developing for about a decade.
Along with the traditional corn maze, goat walk, pumpkin cannon and haunted woods, Maris Farms has added a new feature called the "Monster Safari," which allows patrons on a specially modified school bus to fire paintballs at "zombies" positioned throughout a large section of woods near the back of the farm's 40-acre property.
Throughout the ride, there are 40 pop-up targets and an additional 12 live zombies roaming the forest.
"You shoot zombies in the woods," Maris said, adding "You only shoot, nobody shoots back at you."
Each admission tickets gets a station on the bus and 100 paintballs to fire while in the "destruction zone," fenced off from the rest of the farm by a huge metal gate, like the one in "Jurassic Park."
The Monster Safari is one of three "haunts" at the farm, including "The Reaping," which Maris refers to as "Creeps in the Corn." The Reaping begins in one of the barns and takes visitors through several scare stations with "free roaming spooks," as well as lighting effects and the farms vertigo tunnel.
When you finish there, you can head down to Dark Hollow, or "Freaks in the Forest" where live actors will jump out of the woods to give farm-goers a scare.
And along with the haunts, Maris is hosting all of its traditional fall farm events, from the giant pumpkin patch to the corn room to, of course, the farm's 5-acre corn maze, this year themed "Support your local fire department."
The farm also sports a mechanical bull - a ride is included in admission - and this year features a zip line for those looking for a high-flying thrill.
There's also the farm's raised Goat Walk, a patch of tiny pumpkins, a rope spider web, the new pumpkin tetherball stations, monster truck rides, games and all sorts of fall fun for kids of all ages.
There's also pig races, with a faux betting window set up to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. To date, Maris Farms has donated more than $14,000.
Maris said the goal is bring folks out to the farm for a "uniquely fall event" where families can spend an entire day and there's fun for children, teens and adults, depending on your fright factor, of course.
"Everything that scares you will be there," Maris said.
Up on state Route 410, Farm Fresh Produce is also hosting its annual Halloween events, complete with a corn maze, pumpkins, a slingshot, monster truck rides and a haunted house. Farm Fresh also offers tons of fall produce to take home for your table.
In Buckley, the annual Fright Factory is also up and running to give you a good scare with proceeds benefitting the Buckley Communities Activity Center.
All events are open through Halloween.