“Mom, try to find us! Look!… MOM!”
As Andy continued running the leaf blower, I looked up from my raking to find Aylee and Kennedy’s limbs poking through the giant leaf pile that I had just finished neatly raking up. “Oh, that looks so fun…you girls are so silly…” I made my best attempt at saying it with some conviction, trying not to show my slight irritation. They continued to giggle and toss the leaves in the air until Kennedy darted for the backyard and Aylee ran after her. Thank goodness Harper is not yet old enough to contribute to any leaf pile explosions.
I proceeded to the mess of a pile and raked up the leaves (again) that they scattered around while reminding myself that although they had given me more yard work, they were having fun and being good. Ask any parent – that combination is rare; and when it happens, you don’t mess with it. Ever.
Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year! I love everything about fall…ok, ok, except raking leaves. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the best outside activities are available in the fall! One of our family’s favorite fall-time activities is going to Amazing Fall Fun, which is nestled in the quaint town of Waterloo. The name itself is a perfect fit.
After finishing the leaf blowing and raking, we all piled into the car and made our trek toward Waterloo. We had to make a pit stop in Garrett though, to pick up my sixteen-year-old sister, Maddy (she’s great to have around, especially when we need extra reinforcement while traveling with the kids). Upon arriving at AFF, everyone was antsy to get out of the car and run to the entrance. The kids couldn’t wait to see all the different pumpkins and gourds, while Andy and I just wanted to get out of the car full of bickering children. To our amazement, the bickering and teasing stopped as soon as we paid our admission and entered into the activity area. When passing the corn hole boards to the left, there was an interesting sight to behold: kids were standing inside giant corrugated piping and rolling them across the yard. Immediately, all our kids (Maddy included) ran toward the giant play things and jumped inside. So much for the extra reinforcement from Maddy.
This “Barrel Roll” activity was a riot to watch! Kids and adults alike were getting inside and trying to roll the barrels without sliding around or falling down inside. Some were successful but, luckily for my entertainment, many others were not. Regardless, everyone was having fun watching everyone else. Once the kids had enough, they ran off to “Straw Mountain.” AFF has strategically and masterfully placed several bales of straw in a pile, creating secret passages, hidden tunnels, and slides. Next on the list was “Tire Mountain” – this activity is the true definition of a sand castle. Numerous tractor tires have been stacked pyramid-like and filled with sand for kids to play in.
All of these activities were a lot of fun for the kids, but the real excitement came once they discovered the “Corn Box.” That’s right, I said “Corn Box.” This area is a 12×12 foot box, 12 inches deep, and completely filled with corn kernels. The kids got in and swam around for nearly an hour. They took turns burying each other and begging me to take pictures of it. Trying to get them out and go to the Corn Maze was like pulling teeth – they were having so much fun, they didn’t want to do anything else.
Maddy and Kennedy wanted to be in charge of directing us through the maze, so we sent them to buy a map for $0.25. There was no way that we trusted them to not get us lost. The corn maze consumes over 12 acres – that is about the size of 10 football fields! I could picture it perfectly in my head…headlines in Monday’s paper would read, “Family lost in corn field because Mom didn’t buy map.” That was not going to be us.
Once we made it out of the corn maze without a Search and Rescue team, we were all exhausted from our adventures and were ready to head home. But we first stopped at the concession stand for refreshments and homemade donuts. During this time, I had the honor of speaking with Myles Smith (MS) whose family runs AFF:
Me: I see that you guys are doing a fundraiser for Relay for Life this weekend. That is great!
MS: Yes, we actually partner with Relay for Life every year and donate $1 of each Amazing Fall Fun (AFF) ticket sold to their cause. This weekend we were able to raise over $1,100! This is the most that we’ve ever raised for them!!
Me: That is wonderful! So, how long has Amazing Fall Fun been in business and how did the idea of come about?
MS: This is our 4th year in business. We wanted a way to preserve our family farm legacy and at the same time share our farm with the community. We found that some other farmers in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan were doing corn mazes, so we thought this would be a great way to accomplish our goals of preserving our farm for our family and other families. The first year we opened we had over 4,500 visitors, attendance grew to over 5,000 the second year, and last year we had over 10,000 visitors in attendance. This year we hope to get to the 12,000 mark.
Me: Wow! Well, I can see how attendance keeps growing – every year our kids discover something new. They absolutely love AFF! There is so much to do here and we did not get to everything. Can you describe what other activities AFF offers besides the Corn Maze, Barrel Roll, Straw Mountain, Tire Mountain, and Corn Box?
MS: One of the favorite activities is solving the riddles that you find posted throughout the corn maze. You write down your answers to each riddle and turn it in before you leave, then we have a grand prize drawing at the end of the year. This year’s prize is a free pizza every month for a year! We also have a 7-acre pumpkin patch with over 25 different types of pumpkins and gourds, wheelbarrow races, Cornhole, Pumpkin Checkers, Pumpkin Tic-Tac-Toe, tether ball, and hay rides. We also have a concession stand that serves fresh sugar donuts, caramel corn, hot dogs, pretzels, Amish fudge, hot cider, cold cider, hot chocolate, assorted candy bars, Pepsi products, and water.
Me: So, I’m very intrigued by the design of the corn maze! Who comes up with the different designs every year?
MS: We meet as a family every December and begin throwing out ideas for what we would like for the following year. My dad usually has the best ideas. He was the one who originally had the dream of a corn maze and was the first person to suggest partnering with the Indianapolis Colts.
Obviously that idea worked out wonderfully for Amazing Fall Fun and their staff this year because Pat McAfee (Punter for the Colts) flew in by helicopter to visit AFF last week. My thoughts on this? I suggest doing a silhouette of Bob Seger next year. Maybe he would show up in Waterloo for a concert in the corn field. Hey, you never know!
For more on Amazing Fall Fun, their hours, driving directions, and admission prices, you can visit them on their website or find them on Facebook to receive exclusive deals, offers, and see many of their pictures. We definitely cannot wait to visit them again next year!