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A maze of fall activities

A welcome gate stands at the entrance of a 2-acre corn maze at A Maze-N-Pumpkinz1 / 3
Bob Jones peeked around a corner of his corn maze at The Farm on St. Mathias.2 / 3
Ready for Halloween, Keagan O’Day hoisted a massive pumpkin at A Maze-N-Pumpkinz3 / 3

There’s no denying it — fall has not only arrived on the calendar but, based on this past week’s weather, it’s also in the air. 

So why not get out and partake in family-friendly activities to get you in the mood for the season?

In the Brainerd area, there’s plenty to do — corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin patches and haunted houses, to name a few.

The Brainerd Lakes Chamber offers the following list of activities:

• A Maze-N-Pumpkinz, Nisswa, weekends through Oct. 31. Pumpkins, corn maze, haunted nights, hay rides, petting zoo, pumpkin chunkin’ contest. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit

• The Farm on St. Mathias Corn Maze, Brainerd, weekends through October. For more information visit

• Pumpkin Patch on 77-Boats and Beyond Rentals, Nisswa, Fridays-Sundays in October. Pumpkins, bounce house, pony rides, face painting. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call 963-7700.

• The Haunt at Paul Bunyan Land, Brainerd, Fridays and Saturdays in October. The Barely Haunted Corn Maze begins at 6 p.m. while the Haunted Corn Maze begins at dusk. Hours are 7-10 p.m. For more information visit

• Haunted Trail at Northland Arboretum, Brainerd, Oct. 20-21. Hours are 7-9 p.m. For more information visit

• Oktoberfest at Northland Arboretum, Brainerd, Oct. 7. Features German wines, specialty beer tasting, German food, music and more. Local brewers also will have beer for sampling. There will be a Hammerschlagen Contest and a yodeling contest.

• Oktoberfest at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge, Deerwood, Oct. 21-23. Minnesota Harvest Buffet Dinner Show, German Buffet, music and entertainment, arts and crafts fair. For more information visit

It will be the second year in business for A Maze-N-Pumpkinz, owned by Nicole and Chris O’Day. Nicole O’Day said the property, located east of Nisswa on Crow Wing County Road 18, has been in her family for 120 years. With autumn her favorite season — Nicole O’Day said she’s been called the crazy pumpkin lady — it seemed natural to open her corn maze, especially with how much other forms of entertainment cost. 

“We have four children and we went out for a movie and pizza and it cost us $152.62,” Nicole O’Day said. “I will never forget that amount because it made me sick to my stomach. It was half my grocery money. Why can’t a family do something fun in this area and spend time together? So we said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

For Arlene and Bob Jones, owner of The Farm on St. Mathias Corn Maze, the farm was bought as an investment. The 6-acre corn maze was the result of being members marketing ideas from of the National Association of Direct Farmers, to promote “Agri-tainment.”

“People are interested in agriculture these days, being on a farm,” Arlene Jones said, “and a lot of people are drawn to farms with corn mazes, pumpkins, hay rides. All that gives them the opportunity to get back out on a farm.”

Such mazes, Arlene Jones said, are a good way to pull kids away from televisions and video games. 

“They can run around, they don’t have to worry about traffic or strangers,” Arlene Jones said. “They can run and play, go home and take a really good nap.

“It’s been a lot of work but it’s really been a good endeavor for us.”

Like The Farm on St. Mathias’ maze, A Maze-N-Pumpkinz caters mostly to children. Even the haunted at night is age appropriate, Nicole O’Day said. 

“It’s all about the kids,” Nicole O’Day said. 

At The Haunt at Paul Bunyan Land, the crowd tends to be older for the haunted corn maze, haunted house and new this year, a haunted village, said co-owner Lois Smude. People can chose one haunt or do all three. 

“It’s just a group of people that just love to be scared. That’s what we gear to,” Smude said of her customers, mostly older teenagers and adults. 

In its eighth season, Smude said the haunt events at Paul Bunyan Land draw the biggest crowds of any event at the business. The Haunt at Paul Bunyan Land will open Oct. 7, but Smude said crews, including her “scream team” have been busy for quite some time in preparing to scare.

“We’re excited,” Smude said. “We have a lot of work to do the next couple of weeks but it’s a fun time, a lot of fun for everyone.”

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at matt.erickson@ or 855-5857.