‘Twilight’ maze only one of many attractions at Black Island Farms
SYRACUSE — It is not just a corn maze, it is not just a haunted house — there is a lot more to the Black Island Farms Harvest Festival. ”We specialize in field trips,” said Dorathy Law, marketing director for Black Island Farms. Those field trips are not just for schoolchildren but also for assisted-living center residents. There are even accommodations for the deaf and blind.
The 24 acres of maze is the largest corn maze in Utah, Law said. The maze will thrill fans of the Twilight Saga, as the theme for this year’s maze is “Eclipse,” a sequel in the series. The largest maze is of Bella, while two more mazes are of Jacob and Edward. But it wasn’t the mazes that thrilled 9-year-old Amado Gutieres, a student from Salt Lake City’s Backman Elementary School whose class was visiting the farm. ”The slides are the most fun, and I like the sandbox,” Amado said.
He and his classmates were on a field trip to the farm Monday. Students rode the cow train and learned about farm animals, plant food and different types of plants, such as eggplant. Farm owner Charles Black showed the children a potted eggplant and explained how the vegetable can be cooked. The kids also climbed aboard a tractor-pulled hay wagon and rode through the pumpkin fields. The students learned about cows, including that the Holstein is the breed most commonly used to provide milk. The kids also learned about turkeys, chickens, goats, pigs and peacocks. The children oohed and aahed when they saw baby chickens and turkeys. And they were thrilled with the pig races.
“It is fun to learn and fun to play,” Amado said after he crawled out of a “corn snake” made of corn husks and huge tubing. This is the sixth year for the Harvest Festival at the farm the Blacks have been operating since 1962.
Law said the objective of the autumn event is to keep the farm alive, to sustain its rich heritage and to provide entertainment to the general public. It is meant to promote agriculture. Agri-tainment is a new term formed for farm owners who want to have another source of income to keep their farms viable. ”Farms have to diversify; it has become a trend,” Law said.
Black Island Farms is a working vegetable farm along the wetlands in Syracuse. The main crops are carrots, onions and cabbage, but corn, pumpkins, gourds and squash also are grown especially for the Harvest Festival. Richard Sparks, with Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, Utah’s Own and Agri-Advocates programs, was there to support the educational programs. Farmer Charlie Black said the farm will remain open space. Black Island Farms was the first Utah farm to work with the Utah Quality Growth Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and the Utah Department of Agriculture to place a conservation easement on a portion of the property that harbors critical habitat.
Discounted field trips are available for schools. To book a field trip, call 801-774-MAZE or visit the website www.BlackIslandFarms.com. Law said the corn maze is designed to challenge those attempting to find the one exit in more than five miles of twists, turns and dead ends.
Black Island Farms Harvest Festival and Nightmare Acres will open Friday and run through Halloween. The hours for the Harvest Festival will be 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The haunted house is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays and from 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission for the corn maze is $10 for adults and $8 for children, and the pumpkin hayride — plus a pumpkin — is $8 for adults and $5 for children. A combo pass may be purchased at $15 for adults or $10 for children. Nightmare Acres is $15 for adults. Law said she does not like to frighten children, so she suggests children younger than 12 not go through the haunted house.
Admission to both Nightmare Acres and Corn Maze is $20 for adults. Oct. 1 and 2 are Military Appreciation Days with discounts for members of the military and their families. Law said it takes the average person more than an hour to find the maze exit.