TWIN CITIES MAZE AND HARVEST FESTIVAL
BROOKLYN PARK, MN
My family went to the Twin Cities Maze and Harvest Festival a week ago and I am still picking up corn kernels that are trickling out of my kids’ pants pockets, shoes and from the bottom of my purse. And every time I pick up a kernel, I am reminded of two things: 1) I need to write this blog post and 2) That made for some beautiful fall memories! We spent a very brisk day at this festival, which is open late-September through late-October every Fall, and it pretty much nails that Autumn-meets-Family-Fun feeling square on the head! Albeit expensive, there were plenty of activities – some included in the price of admission and many not – that will keep your little ones busy for hours. Mine spent almost two hours in the corn pit alone. Truth? So did I. And I loved it. That, along with the giant inflatable pillow, the cheese curds, the ginormous corn maze shaped like the MN Wild logo, and some toe-tappin’ music, made it worth the cost. Plus, I think we unintentionally hijacked enough corn kernels to save on Jiffy Pop for a solid year.
What is it?
The Twin Cities Maze and Harvest Festival is the home of Minnesota’s largest corn maze, located right in our very own Brooklyn Park. This business is my favorite kind of business – a family one. Bert Bouwman, his wife, and five kids started creating their enormous corn mazes in 2010, every year carving a new design that coincides with the charity of their choosing (a portion of your ticket price then goes towards that charity). While the majority of the 20-acres is designated for the corn maze, the main center area is littered in entertainment for little ones, including inflatables, a giant slide, two corn pits, food vendors, live music, pony rides, a petting zoo, a pumpkin slinger, and more! The Bouwman family does a great job of capturing exactly what parents are looking for to entertain their children. Clean, well-organized, kindly-staffed, and FUN! AND they give back to their community. Win-win in my book.
Fit for what ages?
While it’s nice to get your less-than-36-inchers in the door for free, I’d say that’s about the minimum height for when they’ll really start enjoying all the attractions here. My 33-month old was able to participate in everything and did most of it without parental assistance. My five-year-old? He thought this place was put on earth as a gift from God specifically for him. Inflatable obstacle courses, a ginormous slingshot to fire pumpkins, mini tractors, and a pool of corn to wrestle in without anyone constantly yelling at him to settle down or be careful? Little Boy Heaven. But truly, any age 2-3 on up should find great enjoyment in the open space and fresh air, running freely on hay bales and diving into corn. There is a mini corn pit for tinier tots as well, hidden behind the main corn pit. The giant corn maze is intended to get you lost for hours (which it can, if you’re super duper bad at reading a map), but they offer “easy-outs” in case a tantrum hits or your children (or spouse) get hangry or tired. If you have a really little one, I’d recommend back-packing them through the maze. Older kids will love the maze (and the corn pit, bungee jumper, and pumpkin slinger).
How much are we talkin?
Admission to the The Twin Cities Maze and Harvest Festival is $12/person. Under 36″ is free. Our daughter just barely squeaked in for free, or that would’ve been almost $50 just to enter. Once you are in, your admission fee covers the Corn Maze, Corn Pit, Straw Bale Maze, Rainbow Systems Swingset, Live Music, Petting Zoo, Hayride, and Mini Tractor Cycles.
The financial “issue” is, these attractions have a bunch of “distractions” intermingled among them, so of COURSE your kid is going to beg and plead to go in the bounce house or shoot a pumpkin on the pumpkin slinger. To partake in these additional activities, you need to purchase tickets from their ticket booth. The ticket booths take cash and credit card and each ticket is $1. The food vendors and pumpkin patch accept cash, but also take tickets (no credit cards). Not included in the price of admission are the Climbing Wall (2 tickets), Bounce House (2 tickets), Obstacle Course (2 tickets), Inflatable Pillow (2 tickets), Pumpkin Slinger (1 ticket), Food Vendors, Pony Rides (5 tickets), Gunny Sack Slide (2 tickets), Bungee Jump (3 tickets), and Pumpkin Picking (3 pumpkins for $10). Parents can go into the inflatables for free to help their children on the obstacles if needed, as well as free on the slide if the child sits in your lap. The Festival also offers helicopter rides and Fall-themed family photos for a fee too.
Note: I had a little sticker shock after ticket purchases were made, but felt a bit better after knowing that a portion of this year’s profits will go toward the Minnesota Wild Foundation, which supports pediatric medical causes. You can read more about that charity here. Also, our tickets were purchased through a Groupon deal for half price, so look for deals on discount sites before heading out…just in case.
Want some tips?
Bring cash if you want to buy food. But save money by packing food and drink. The food vendors have your typical options like hot dogs, hamburgers, soda, chips and cheese curds for cash. There is a nice seating area under the white tent in the middle which has adult and kid picnic benches.
I know it’s Fall, so this one is probably unnecessary to even mention, but wear socks. We took our shoes off in the corn pit and I was the only family member sans-socks, regrettably so. That corn is COLD! Very, very cold. Also, to make your post-festival life a little easier, wear “empty-able” clothing (I found kernels in hoods, pockets, rolled jeans, and coat sleeves). There is a big sign over the corn pit that warns you that rings can slide off easily due to corn starch. I played it safe and just wore NO jewelry in general. If you lose something small in that massive pit, good luck finding it.
The Festival opens at 10am. I recommend going when it opens because, a couple hours in, this place was getting noticeably busier. What is nice about the size of this place is that a lot of people really can fit without feeling cramped. There are restrooms (port-a-potties) in the back tucked between the various inflatables. Ticket booths are located in the back near the corn maze. This booth accepts credit cards, so you can purchase tickets for all the paid attractions plus pumpkins (if you don’t have cash, since the pumpkin area only accepts cash or tickets). The corn maze offers a map that will make your head spin, but is so much fun for older kids and adults. Little ones can make it, but only if you’re sure they can survive a half hour walking through rows and rows of corn without complaint. I suggest back-packing really little ones. The ground isn’t ideal for strollers, since it’s mostly hay and dirt, but you can make it work if necessary. There are exits near the front of the maze that are intended to easily escape for those families with littler people (like mine), who just won’t make it through the entire thing.
Once it’s time to leave, you can pull your car up to the pumpkin area and pay and load right there. I was really very impressed with the thoughtful care that went into making sure this Festival gave families a relaxing, enjoyable outing.
Hours and Location
8001 109th Ave N | Brooklyn Park, MN 55445
2014 – The Festival is open on weekends, September 20 through October 26 from 10am – 6pm. It is also open for MEA, October 16-17 from 10 am – 6 pm. It is easy to find, plunked directly on of Hwy 169, slightly north of 694. I guarantee you miss it (just look for giant white tents and corn. Lots of corn.). The parking lot is large, free and unpaved.
Follow the Twin Cities Harvest Festival’s Facebook page for information on live music performances, weather updates, news coverage, or to enter to win free tickets in the occasional online contest.