facebook-pixel

Here’s what to do this October in Utah from corn mazes to haunted houses

Cornbelly’s, with locations in Spanish Fork and Lehi, has built a reputation for designing mazes across North America.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A tribute to country singer Reba McEntire is plowed into a corn maze at Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, photographed here on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

What does one do with a picture of Reba McEntire? In Spanish Fork, there’s one you can walk around in — because it’s a 5-acre corn maze.

The tribute to the country legend — featuring McEntire’s face and the message “Utah [hearts] Reba” — is plowed into the ground as one of Cornbelly’s fall attractions, at 3687 W. 5600 South in Spanish Fork. It’s open now through Oct. 28, Mondays through Saturdays.

McEntire isn’t present in person at the maze, said Kamille Combs, who does marketing for Cornbelly’s — though her songs can be heard occasionally over the maze’s loudspeakers. The maze includes an interactive Reba-themed trivia game, which people can use for navigation tips.

Combs said a Cornbelly’s executive had a friend of a friend who had a connection to McEntire’s management, through Country Music Television. Cornbelly’s reached out and proposed the idea of making McEntire the face of the company’s national corn maze campaign. (The timing was fortunate, Combs said, as McEntire released a new album on Oct. 6 and a lifestyle book on Oct. 10 — both with the title “Not That Fancy.”)

In addition to its two Utah attractions — at Spanish Fork and Lehi’s Thanksgiving Point (which sports an “Addams Family”-themed maze — Cornbelly’s runs a company, The MAiZE, where they design mazes for more than 300 farms across the United States and Canada. This year, 40 of them (including Water Hollow Ranch in Bluebell, in Duchesne County) sport a McEntire-themed design.

“The process starts with finding out what they want to feature that year, because every maze changes their design every year, and they usually try to select something that is timely or has to do with their area,” Combs said.

In Utah, Cornbelly’s in past years has featured singer David Archuleta in 2008 and Utah Jazz legend John Stockton in 2003, among others. Previously, they’ve also created anniversary-themed mazes for “Peanuts,” NASA and “Sesame Street.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Reba Corn Maze at Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

How it started

Cornbelly’s started when Brett Herbst made his first maze in 1996 in American Fork — which, according to The MAiZE’s website, was the “largest corn maze created in the western United States,” and attracted 18,000 people.

That was the start of the Herbst family’s career in agritourism (a term defined by the National Agricultural Library as “a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors.”

Combs — who was friends with Brett Herbst when they were students at Brigham Young University — said Herbst grew up in Salmon, Idaho, on a ranch. He watched his parents struggle and, at one point, lose the ranch, she said.

Because of that experience, Combs said Herbst has “always been very sympathetic to the family farmer and their struggles.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

“Agritourism, as it’s grown over these last 20 years that we’ve been doing this, has really helped these family farmers to be able to hold on to their land and stay a part of agriculture,” she said. “It’s always been his dream to do this right here on his own home farm.”

Herbst said he read a magazine article, nearly 30 years ago, about someone creating a corn maze in Pennsylvania. “It was just one of those ideas that keeps you up at night,” Herbst said. “You’d wake up thinking about it, and I was like, ‘Let’s do that here in Utah.’”

They did, he said, and “it was just a huge hit from day one.”

Now, Herbst takes part in the process of finalizing designs for mazes across North America. It’s a three- or four-step process, with a team of eight designers working with farmers to see what might fit in with their vision. The staff has 10 to 12 employees who work in Spanish Fork full-time.

The corn is planted in June, Combs said, and the design is cut in July when the corn is short — and maintained through October. After that, the field corn (which is harder than the sweet corn humans typically consume) is either fed to cattle or tilled back into the ground.

Three years ago, Herbst opened the second Cornbelly’s Utah location, across from his home property in Spanish Fork. Combs said the company expanded because they couldn’t fit everyone into the Thanksgiving Point location — especially when they wanted to give people space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A miniature cow at Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

Crops and attractions

The Herbst family’s farm in Spanish Fork covers 200 acres, where they grow alfalfa, wheat and hay — as well as corn for the maze.

And sunflowers — more than 1 million of them, Combs said, for last month’s sunflower festival.

“Our sunflowers are late this year, because it was such a cool summer,” Herbst said. “We had a really good water year this year. … There’s definitely always challenges [in] farming. There’s always something that throws a curveball at you.”

Besides the corn maze, the Spanish Fork location features a corn cob beach, a train that runs through a field of sunflowers, farm-related activities and games, and such decorations as a replica of Delicate Arch made from plastic pumpkins.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Great American Duck Race at Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

People can also see animals, including mini horses, two Highlander cows and mallard ducks racing. “The Great American Duck Races” are a touring attraction, run by a man from New Mexico whose name is, yes, Robert Duck.

Another attraction on the property has great significance for the Herbst family. It’s a replica of a hut from Mali, which features a miniature depiction of a village, video of the family’s time there, an example of a water tank with solar panels, and a demonstration of the quality of the water that people there drink.

Herbst, getting emotional as he tells the story, said his son, Cody, was preparing to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mali, but those plans were canceled because of the pandemic.

Cody had saved up $12,000, and brought it to his father, and asked if he wanted to go to Africa to donate the money toward digging a drinking well. Last year, on a 12-day trip, the family helped install nine wells. (The bottled water sales at Cornbelly’s go toward building new wells in Africa.)

Cornbelly’s started hosting school field trips at their Spanish Fork location a few weeks ago. When Herbst talked about those first kids stepping onto the farm, Combs said, he had tears in his eyes, “because it’s just the realization of a dream.”

Herbst said, “My favorite part is just helping farmers keep the farm in the family, so that it doesn’t just disappear to developer concrete.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sunflowers grow at Cornbelly's in Spanish Fork, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

——

More Halloween attractions

Here is a listing of corn mazes, haunted houses, pumpkin patches and other attractions happening in October. Some on this list have more than one attraction happening at the same location (for example, some corn mazes also have haunted attractions or pumpkin patches).

Corn mazes

American West Heritage Center • 4025 S. U.S. Highway 89-91, Wellsville; now through Oct. 30 (closed Sundays).

Black Island Farms • 2075 S. 4000 West, Syracuse; open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through October, plus Oct. 31.

Cornbelly’s • 3003 N. Thanksgiving Point Way, Lehi, and 3687 W. 5600 South, Spanish Fork; Lehi open now through Oct. 30 (closed Sundays); Spanish Fork open now through Oct. 28 (closed Sundays).

Crazy Corn Maze • 8802 S. 4000 West, West Jordan; now through Oct. 31 (closed Sundays).

Cross E Ranch • 3500 N. 2200 West, Salt Lake City; now through Oct. 30 (closed Sundays).

Gibson’s Green Acres • 449 S. 4700 West, Ogden; now through Oct. 28 (closed Sundays).

Happy Pumpkin Fun Maze • 3642 W. 2900 South, West Haven; now through Halloween (closed Sundays).

Little Bear Bottoms Family Farms • 5100 S. U.S. Highway 89-91, Wellsville; now through Oct. 31 (closed Sundays).

Staheli Family Farm • 3400 S. Washington Fields Road, Washington; now through Oct. 30 (closed Sundays).

Water Hollow Ranch • 4660 N. 12000 West, Bluebell (Duchesne County); Thursdays through Saturdays in October (group reservations only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Oct. 25).

Haunted houses

Asylum 49 Haunted Hospital • 140 E. 200 South, Tooele; now through Nov. 11 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, except for Oct. 30-31l also closed Nov. 1-2 and Nov. 5-9).

Castle of Chaos • 7980 S. State, Midvale; now through Oct. 31 (closed Mondays, except for Oct. 30).

Fear Factory • 666 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City; now through Nov. 4 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays except Oct. 30-31; also closed Nov. 1-3).

Haunted Forest • 6000 W. 6400 North, American Fork; now through Oct. 31 (closed Sundays).

Haunted Hollow • 1550 S. 1900 West, West Haven; now through Halloween (closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, except Oct. 30-31).

Hidden Lake Haunts • 277 Hidden Lake Drive, Bountiful; open Fridays and Saturdays through October, plus Halloween night; admission is one nonperishable food item, with all proceeds going to the Bountiful Community Food Pantry.

Night Stalkers Haunted Trail • 8802 S. 4000 West, West Jordan; now through Oct. 31 (closed Sundays).

Nightmare on 13th • 320 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City; now through Nov. 4 (closed Sundays, and Nov. 1-2).

Spookshow Haunted Screampark • 510 E. River Side Drive, Price; open Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween, also open Oct. 23-26 and 30-31.

Pumpkin patches

Hee Haw Farms • 150 S. 2000 West, Pleasant Grove; fall festival runs through Nov. 4 (closed Sundays).

Kuwahara’s Pumpkin Patch and Thriller Park • 12153 S. 700 West, Draper; now through Oct. 30.

Mabey Farms • 10090 S. 1000 West, South Jordan; now through Oct. 31 (closed Sundays).

The Pumpkin Patch at Carlisle Gardens • 1200 N. County Blvd., American Fork; open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other attractions

Candlelight Halloween Classics • 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi. :isten to Halloween classics at this candlelight concert series at Thanksgiving Point. Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6:30 and 9 p.m.

Evermore Park • 382 S. Evermore Lane, Pleasant Grove. The theme park transforms into a Halloween village every fall, with its immersive experience “Lore.” Open Oct. 13-14, 19-21, 26-28 and 30-31.

Frightmares at Lagoon • 275 N. Lagoon Dr., Farmington. The venerable amusement park dresses up for family-friendly Halloween fun. Open Oct. 13-15, 19-22 and 27-29.

Scarecrow Festival • 3900 N. Garden Drive, Lehi. Get in touch with Utah nature at Thanksgiving Point’s Ashton Gardens with this festival. Oct. 16-21.