Maize maze and more

By Chris Parks

Rowe’s offers rows of family fun

Over the last 23 years, Rowe’s Pumpkin Patch in Mason has grown from selling a few orange gourds to an 80-acre operation, featuring a petting farm, weekend hayrides and, of course, pumpkins, making it a mid-Michigan destination for anyone looking for family friendly fun.

Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction at Rowe’s is the annual corn maze. The nearly 10-acre maze features a different design every year, all designed, mowed and maintained by owner Joyce Rowe.

“A lot of places around here are hiring the professionals to come in, but that’s not what we do,” Rowe said. “We always do it on our own, from start to finish.”

Rowe said she usually imagines a design and then sketches it out on grid paper. From there, she counts off rows, plants flags for the design and mows it out when the corn is about a foot tall. This year’s design is hearts and flowers, in memory of her mother who passed away last December.

While creating an entire corn maze seems a lot of work for one person, Rowe is a model of efficiency. “On a good day, it takes maybe eight hours,” she said. “It varies from design to design, some are a lot more complicated; typically I can get it mowed out in a day.”

Rowe’s also has its own farm market, greeting visitors with the smell of autumn spices and the warm people who work there. Featuring autumn staples like jams, jellies and apples, the farm market also has a wide selection of produce, including tomatoes, peppers, corn and more.

Most enticing of all though, are the freshly baked pumpkin and apple donuts, which go perfectly with a cup of cider.

Other activities at Rowe’s include a petting zoo, inflatable bounce houses for children, and a fairly new addition to the farm: an apple cannon. Introduced last year, Rowe said the airpowered cannon has become “quite a hit.” In addition to a jack-o’-lantern target, there are also Michigan State University and University of Michigan targets to aim apples at, for those who can’t get enough of the rivalry.

While Rowe’s has something to entertain almost anyone, the welcoming family atmosphere may be its biggest draw. Jeanine Garcia, who has been with Rowe’s for 10 years said, in between a laugh with Joyce Rowe, that her favorite part of the farm is meeting the visitors. “This is a family oriented farm,” she said. “Everything is about family.”

Rowe’s Pumpkin Patch

4047 W. Columbia Road, Mason (517) 676-9360 Hours:

Through Oct. 31, 2009_
Closed Monday & Tuesday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday – Friday Noon – 6
p.m. Saturday & Sunday Corn Maze admission is $6, FREE for 3 and
younger Maze After Dark 6 – 10 p.m. Oct. 23, 24, 30 & 31 _ $6, FREE
for 3 and younger