When autumn descends on Nebraska residents all across the state celebrate the change of the seasons with visits to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, along with enjoying hayrack rides and caramel apples.
For area residents looking to enjoy all the quintessential fall follies, there is the Camp Fontanelle Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze.
In a little over a week the annual Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze will return to Camp Fontanelle, located at 9677 Co Rd 3 in Nickerson, for another year of family fun.
Along with the corn maze and pumpkin patch, this year’s Camp Fontanelle festivities will include zip lining, laser tag, as well as a barbeque and silent auction fundraiser.
The 2017 Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze will open on Sunday, September 17 at 1 p.m. where attendees will also get the chance to support Camp Fontanelle while enjoying barbeque and their annual silent and quilt auctions.
“This is the only organized fundraiser that we have all year,” Jane Van Horn, camp coordinator, said. “Not only will it be the opening day for our pumpkin patch and corn maze, but it will coincide with our annual barbeque and auctions. So it is a huge day to be out at the camp.”
The barbecue will feature pulled pork provided by First United Methodist Church in Fremont, as well as grilled chicken, pigs in a blanket, and homemade rolls and buns.
“We have our general cooks for the summer make pigs in a blanket and homemade buns and rolls to go along with the barbecue, and we have suggested prices but it is all by donation so whatever people feel they want to give for the meal,” Van Horn said.
The opening day festivities will also include a silent auction that features signed Huskers memorabilia, photo portraits of Camp Fontanelle, and much more. There is also a quilt auction.
“Quilts have been coming in and we have very thing from wall hangings to super king sized quilts. Some are machine quilted, some are hand quilted it is a huge variety,” Van Horn said.
Following the opening day on Sept. 17 the Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-7 p.m through Nov. 5.
Entrance to the corn maze and pumpkin patch is $7 for ages 12 and up, $5 for ages 3-11, and free for 2 years and under.
This year’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze is also an official Nebraska 150 event, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the state. With the Nebraska 150 designation the corn maze will feature an iconic Nebraska image that can be seen atop the State Capitol Building in Lincoln and on the state’s latest license plate design.
“We are super excited about our Nebraska 150 status and the corn maze actually has the Sower in the maze and a covered wagon,” Van Horn said.
Along with the representation of the bronze Sower statue that sits atop the State Capitol, and the image of a covered wagon, the corn maze also features a representation of a corn cob and stalk that will serve as the venue for laser tag at Camp Fontanelle.
“You can only get into that maze if you play laser tag, and each game is $3,” Van Horn said.
Throughout the Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze season there will be several special events including a Search For Treats event on Oct. 22nd.
“We have people from churches and businesses sit in the corn maze and hand out treats to people who are going through,” Van Horn said.
There will also be three “scary” nights on Oct. 20, 21, and 27th as well as a Halloween 5K run on Oct. 28. Registration for the 5K is $30 per person and includes a t-shirt, lunch after the race and a free ticket to the corn maze.
Attendees can also find a coupon for $1 off by visiting Camp Fontanelle’s website at www.campfontanelle.com. The coupon will be good for a dollar of any and all events when used with initial entrance into the camp.
“You don’t have to have a coupon for everything, if you have four in your family and you want to zip and play laser tag it is a dollar off of all of those things for all individuals,” Van Horn said. “We want people to come and enjoy the camp, so we try to keep our prices as low as possible.”
All of the proceeds from the Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze fund the various summer camp’s that are held at Camp Fontanelle each year.
According to Van Horn, there was a record number of attendees this summer with 718 attending various camps, which is the most since Camp Fontanelle opened in 1959.
“It was a really great year for us and a great number,” she said. “But the important thing is how many kids were here and how many kids we were able to help develop their faith journey and hopefully send kids back into their community that understand service, kindness and just being good people.”
For more information about Camp Fontanelle’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze, or about the camp itself, visit their website at www.campfontanelle.com or call 402- 478-4296.
“People say, ‘gosh you’re the best kept secret,’ and we don’t want be the best kept secret,” Van Horn said. “We want everybody to come out and enjoy themselves and that is what the fall for us is all about, people having fun and seeing that we exist out here.”