Ready to stalk some fall fun on the farm?
Visits to corn mazes, with hayrides and family trips to pick your own pumpkin straight from the patch, are known as agritainment — and it's big business in East Tennessee.
This form of agricultural tourism presents a way for farmers to make ends meet while fulfilling the wishes of city slickers longing for a farm-fresh experience they may have only read about. This popular form of agri-tourism brings economic activity to rural areas through visitor expenditures such as the $10 to $15 paid for admission then extra fees for pumpkin purchases or game tickets.
Following are four regional mazes that would make a good family "field" trip. All locations suggest visitors wear closed-toe shoes for safety; no flip-flops.
BLOWING SPRINGS FARM ENCHANTED MAZE
* Where: 271 Chattanooga Valley Road, Flintstone, Georgia
* When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, Sept. 27-Oct. 27 (property closes at 8:30 p.m.)
* Admission: $10 ages 4 and up, includes four tokens
* For more information: https://www.blowingspringsfarm.com/enchanted-maize/
"Hop on the Cow Train" is the theme of this year's corn maze — a nod to a favorite people mooo-ver at Blowing Springs Farm.
The farm offers 10 acres of classic fall fun such as hayrides, duck races, oversized yard games, pumpkin picking, pumpkin painting and, new this year, a pedal cart playground. Corny activities include a corn crib station, corn slingshots, corn hole and, of course, the corn maze with an interactive corn text game.
Bagby's Critter Corral returns with a petting zoo of mini Scottish Highland cows, donkeys, horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, alpaca and a potbellied pig.
Indulge in a variety of foods from hot dogs to hot chocolate, sausage and pepper sandwiches, funnel cakes and even fried Oreos.
Blowing Springs Farm was listed as a 2018 Top 20 Event by Southeast Tourism Society.
OLD MCDONALD'S FARM FALL FESTIVAL
* Where: 16705 Coulterville Road, Sale Creek
* When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, noon-7 p.m. Sundays, open Tuesdays-Fridays for groups by appointment; Sept. 28-Oct. 27
* Admission: $12.50 ages 3 and older, additional charge for pumpkins
* For more information: https://www.oldmcdonaldsfarm.net/
One of the first songs a preschooler learns is "Old McDonald Had a Farm," so actually visiting Old McDonald Farm and experiencing farm fun is an exciting outing for kids.
In addition to a 4-acre corn maze, there is an acre-sized hay-bale maze for little ones, a cow coaster, hayrides, pumpkin slingshot, inflatable ponies, pedal tractor races and Critter Barn.
* Where: 1096 Baier Road, Crossville, Tenn.
* When: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, 1-6 p.m. Sundays, all times Central. Beginning Oct. 4, open Fridays 2-9 p.m.
* Admission: $12 ages 3 and up, $17 VIP admission, which includes 10- to 25-pound pumpkin, barrel train ride ticket and two apple cannon tickets
* For more information: http://autumnacres.net/
Pick one of three mazes to start your ag-venture at Autumn Acres. The Trivia Maze is the largest with more than 40 topics from which to choose. Then, at each of the 10 checkpoints in this maze, you must answer a question correctly to advance to the next checkpoint.
The second is a mystery maze called Farm Scene Investigation Maze. Farmer Joe is missing after an accident, and it may have been foul play. As the detective, you must navigate seven checkpoints to learn the truth. Youngsters may not do this maze alone; recommended for ages 9 and up.
Farm Scene Tracks is the smallest maze recommended for ages 2-8. Little visitors collect tracks to discover who stole the farmer's pie.
In addition, there are tractor-drawn wagon rides, corn crib, tunnel slides, cow train, corn hole boards and other farm-themed play areas.
THE RIVER MAZE
* Where: 1371 Highway 64, Ocoee, Tenn.
* When: 5-9 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 28-Nov. 3
* Admission: $11.90 plus tax for ages 4 and up, $5 hayride to pumpkin patch, $15 escape rooms; opens Sept. 28
* For more information: http://www.therivermaze.com/
The theme of this fall's 10-acre corn maze is a throwback to 2005's popular maze: Trek Thru Truth in Tennessee. In addition to the outline of the state, the maze includes four Tennessee icons: mockingbird, iris, raccoon and the three-star emblem included on the state flag. Paths cut within the state's outline are Tennessee rivers.
The maze has 10 passport posts, each with a Tennessee trivia question on it. Additionally, visitors can use their smartphones to play "Who Stole Davy Crockett's Coonskin Hat?" in the maze.
The smaller soybean maze features hard-working tractor Ott, based on the story by Jack Higgins, a member of the Polk County Hall of Fame.
Finish out your visit with a trip to the pumpkin patch, hayride, flume zoom, corn cannons, cow train, corn tubs or tire swings. Or wind down with a relaxing stroll beside the Ocoee River on the Ocoee River Walkway.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.