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Fritzler’s corn maze will honor Keenesburg’s Wild Animal Sanctuary (video)

Bridgett Weaver | Greeley Colo.

An aerial view of this year's Fritzler Corn Maze depicts a large tiger and the words, The Wild Animal Sanctuary 2015 on Wednesday morning above Fritzler Family Farms in LaSalle. Glen Fritzler, the owner of Fritzler Family Farms, decided on the design for this year to honor Pat Craig and his work at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Kelsey Brunner/ kbrunner@greeleytribune.com |
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Corn maze schedule

Fritzler’s Corn Maze will be open Sept. 19-Oct. 31. Haunted attractions, the haunted corn maze and Scream Acres will open shortly after dark Sept. 25 and will run Friday and Saturday nights. After Oct. 14 they will run Wednesday-Saturday weekly.

September Hours

» Monday-Thursday: closed

» Friday: 5-10p.m. (starting Sept. 25)

» *Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

» Sunday: noon-5 p.m. (no haunted corn maze)

October Hours

» Monday and Tuesday: closed

» Wednesday and Thursday, beginning Oct. 14: 5-9 p.m.

» Friday: 5-10 p.m.

» Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

» Sunday: noon-5 p.m. (no haunted corn maze)

*Saturday, Sept. 19 will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. with no haunting

***

New attractions

Fritzler Acres has two new attractions for the 2015 season. The agri-tourism business will now feature a beer garden and an escape room.

The beer garden will have local beers on tap as well as domestics and will be contained in grassy areas.

The escape room was an idea cooked up by a Fritzler family friend. Ten guests will be locked into a room and will have to find their way out in an hour’s time with the help of hidden clues and messages.

“It’s always a struggle to find a good design,” said Glen Fritzler, the third-generation Fritzler farm owner.

Fritzler and his crew crafted the corn maze into a tiger this year to honor the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

This year’s design started many months ago when Fritzler spoke to a group in Loveland, Colo. Pat Craig from the Keenesburg sanctuary spoke alongside Fritzler.

“I was very impressed with him as a person and what he was doing,” Fritzler said.

Fritzler visited Craig in Keenesburg, Colo., and was further impressed with him and the Wild Animal Sanctuary’s mission, which is to rescue large predators such as lions and tigers and bears.

“I spent a good hour there, and he was petting an animal the entire time,” Fritzler said. “I’ve never seen anybody who loves animals more, and he does so much to benefit animals.”

Fritzler said the tiger’s stripes made it an easier corn maze contender than a lion.

Fritzler said they start fielding the questions of the theme when there’s still snow on the ground.

To make the maze, Fritzler said they work backward, opposite of a painter.

He said a painter starts with an empty canvas and fills it, but the Fritzlers start with a field of corn.

“We plant the whole corn field top to bottom, then plot it into 24 plots,” he said.

The plots are all part of the picture, and they take the 24 separate maps and walk through the full field with herbicide to kill off the parts that make the picture.

This is the 16th year of the corn maze, and it’s become something of a community staple. The corn maze is part of a much larger agri-tourism venture, which Fritzler started in 2000 after a decade of rough farm years.

Fritzler Acres includes a barnyard ball zone, rat roller, pig races, ghost haunt, scream acres haunted house, giant mountain slide, vertiscope, camp fires, paintball adventure, coaster barrel train, expanded play area, two giant pillow jumps, grass volleyball court, pedal go-carts, picnic area, pumpkin cannon, corn stalks, hay mountain, spider webs and a you-pick pumpkin patch.

“We make a conscious decision to do something new every year so for those who come back, it’s something new every time,” Fritzler said.

This year there are two new additions: a beer garden and an attraction called the escape room.

Fritzler’s 23-year-old son Trevor had a hand in the newest attractions.

“For me and my dad, some of the best times we’ve had are sharing a beer after a hard day’s work,” Trevor said. So they decided to start the beer garden.

The garden will feature local beers, including Wiley Roots, as well as domestics. The first annual Octoberfest at the maze will be Oct. 2-4.

Trevor said he’s excited to start the beer garden to help out the local breweries and to add that aspect to the agri-business.

“We’re going to rely on our customers to tell us what they want,” as far as the beer options go, he said.

The escape room is another new part of the 16th season at Fritzler’s.

Fritzler explained it’s a room in which about 10 guests will be locked and must find their way out in an hour’s time with the help of hidden clues and messages.

Fritzler said he started the entire agri-tourism business as a way to help supplement the farm income, but now it’s taken over. Next year will be the first year the Fritzlers don’t plant sweet corn. They will continue to farm other produce, though.

Trevor said it’s a huge undertaking to do the maze and other fall attractions.

“We’re here 12 months of the year thinking about it and working on it,” he said.

Fritzler has one other reason for pulling back a bit on the farm.

“We want to invest a little bit more time in our corn maze, and we want to invest more time in our grandchildren,” he said.

Even though a lot goes into it every year, Fritzler wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” Fritzler said. ❖


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