Fall means pumpkin patches and corn mazes, and area owners of the businesses are geared up for the 2020 season.

Valley Corn Maize, East Grand Forks, opened Friday, Sept. 11; Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch, Emerado, N.D., and Grafton Corn Maze opened Saturday, Sept. 12, and Patch on the Point at Paradise Stables, East Grand Forks, opens Saturday, Sept. 19.

With social distancing, gallons of hand sanitizer available on site and other protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the pumpkin patch and corn maze owners say they are ready to safely welcome customers for the annual rite of fall.

After two years of rainy, cold falls that canceled past activities and closed the patches and mazes on several weekends, their owners are hoping this year for more seasonable weather that will allow them to feature their signature festivities.

At Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch, which is celebrating its 24th year in business, visitors will have a variety of activities from which to choose, including petting farm animals and fowl, going on hayrides and walking through a 14-acre corn maze with a dinosaur theme or a 2-acre corn maze with a Spookley the Square Pumpkin theme.

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On the weekend of Oct. 17-18, Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch will host a Spookley scavenger hunt.

Another weekend activity Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch is hosting is “Pooches in the Patch'' on Sept. 26. On that day, dog owners can bring their leashed pets with them to the patch to go for a doggy hayride, walk through the Spookley Trail and “Sip and Drool” at the grain bin bar.

“We had a really good turnout for that last year. That is a popular event,” said Carrie Nelson, who owns the pumpkin patch with her husband, Aaron.

Farther west and north, in Grafton, N.D., the city’s Parks and Recreation Department opens its 4.6-acre corn maze this weekend.

“Our theme of the corn maze is Veteran’s Memorial,” said Bill Dahl, department director. The maze, designed for young children, has a “search for the monsters” activity within it, he said.

The Grafton Corn Maze also includes a corn cannon, corn hole games and a mini go-cart track. A new addition this year is a mini zipline for children, Dahl said.

A dollar from every Grafton Pumpkin Patch admission fee will be donated to the Walsh County Veteran’s Memorial Foundation. Besides raising money for the Veteran’s Memorial, the corn maze also offers youth an opportunity to fundraise for their organizations, he said. For example, the Border Blades Figure Skating Club collects money at the gate.

“It really becomes a good event for local organizations that are looking for ways to raise money,” he said.

Just outside of East Grand Forks, the Valley Corn Maize also will feature a large straw bale slide, Hoop n’ Holler basketball game and spider web train. The 15-acre maze has cut-outs of sunflowers and the logo of True North Equipment, the business’ corporate sponsor, said Debbie Krueger, who owns Valley Corn Maze with her husband, Kevin, and their children and children’s spouses.

Each week, the corn maze will feature a different theme, including a grandparents day and hometown heroes weekend, Krueger said.

“I’m finding that people like traditions,” she said. “Some of that consistency becomes a routine, and that’s what people want.”

Just south of East Grand Forks, animals and, especially, ponies and horses, are the big draws for Patch on the Point at Paradise stables. The patch features horse-drawn wagon rides for adults and pony rides for children.

Patch on the Point also has alpacas, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.

“I think that is a huge draw for people,” said Kristen Vetter, who co-owns the business with her husband, Clayton.

The patch will have pumpkins, squash and gourds for sale and special events each Saturday. Opening day, Sept. 19, will feature goat yoga, and the next Saturday, Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue will have dogs available for adoption, she said. Other featured events include an archery day, a magician day and a performance by the Grand Forks Central High School drum line.

Information about the patches and corn mazes:

Patch on the Point: https://www.facebook.com/patchonthepoint

Valley Corn Maize: https://www.facebook.com/valleycornmaize

Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch: https://www.facebook.com/nelsonspumpkinpatch

Grafton Corn Maze: https://www.facebook.com/GraftonCornMaze