Texas Agriculture October 16, 2015 : Page 6

7H[DVIDPLOLHVÁRFNWRIDPLO\PD]H&#0f;IDUPDWWUDFWLRQV By Jessica Domel Field Editor Pig races, jumping pillows and an 80-foot slide, oh my! There’s plenty of fun and games to be had at the South Texas MaiZe in Hon-do, where for over 15 years Ken and Laurie Graff have welcomed fami-lies into their fields for some good, old-fashioned farm fun. “We’re unplugged,” Ken said. “The only electronic thing we have here for the kids to do is our apple cannons.” Instead of playing Angry Birds or taking selfies, kids at the maze are encouraged to use their minds, be active and have as much fun as possible. “Admission includes unlimited time jumping on our two giant pil-lows that are buried in the ground,” Laurie said. “They can go down our Mattercorn slide as many times as they want. There’s three 80-foot slides, and they’re a lot of fun.” Families are also encouraged to ride the twin cow train or take a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch. For an additional fee, there’s apple launching and pony rides. Of course, the main attraction at South Texas MaiZe is the maze it-Ken Graff, owner of South Texas MaiZe, watches as families pick colorful pumpkins from the patch at the maze in Hondo. self, which spans seven acres. “It’s a day-length neutral pho-Ken said. that would be something we could tosensitive sorghum sudan grass,” Ken and his family have used the give back.” On Veterans Day weekend in sorghum sudan grass in the maze for 14 of their 15 years, but they’re November, they again honor the considering an alternative crop due nation’s military families with free to the influx of the sugarcane aphid admission to the maze. Ken, Laurie and their staff wel-in sorghum across the state. This year’s maze is designed come visitors to their farm with with the couple’s location, Hondo, welcome arms and remind them in mind. It’s a throwback to the the land they’re walking on is still original Hondo “This is God’s Coun-active in agriculture. “We want to expose the agricul-try, Don’t Drive Through it Like tural way of life to families because Hell” sign. No matter what the design or a lot of our patrons are city dwell-temperature, families enjoy their ers,” Laurie said. “We want them to time at maze. It’s not one specific understand everything goes back attraction or the other that fami-to the farm.” In fact, once the South Texas lies enjoy, but rather, the whole ex-MaiZe closes for the year, the maze perience. “Everything is so intense and itself is dealt with promptly. “We’ll close on Sunday. Monday, so computer-driven,” Ken said. “There’s hardly any place that you we’ll be in here with a hay cutter can go, relax and unwind anymore. cutting it down and rolling it up,” Here, it’s a blast. Everybody has a Ken said. “It will be used for cow feed for the winter.” wonderful time.” One thing that has helped the The maze sees anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 people on Saturdays Graffs continue to tell their story is in October. But that hasn’t stopped the new agritourism bill that was the family from making time to cel-signed into law this session by the governor. The law helps agritour-ebrate America’s heroes. The first two weekends of each ism businesses by limiting liability maze season are dedicated to law if certain conditions are met. “It’s beneficial for everybody enforcement, medical and fire per-sonnel, as well as military mem-from hunting operations to pick-your-own and anybody in the busi-bers, veterans and their families. “Those people have always held ness,” Ken said. South Texas MaiZe is open a close position in our hearts,” Ken said. “When we opened, we decided through Nov. 15. 6 O CTOBER 16, 2015

Texas Families Flock to Family Maze, Farm Attractions

Jessica Domel

Pig races, jumping pillows and an 80-foot slide, oh my! There’s plenty of fun and games to be had at the South Texas MaiZe in Hondo, where for over 15 years Ken and Laurie Graff have welcomed families into their fields for some good, old-fashioned farm fun.

“We’re unplugged,” Ken said. “The only electronic thing we have here for the kids to do is our apple cannons.”

Instead of playing Angry Birds or taking selfies, kids at the maze are encouraged to use their minds, be active and have as much fun as possible.

“Admission includes unlimited time jumping on our two giant pillows that are buried in the ground,” Laurie said. “They can go down our Mattercorn slide as many times as they want. There’s three 80-foot slides, and they’re a lot of fun.”

Families are also encouraged to ride the twin cow train or take a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch. For an additional fee, there’s apple launching and pony rides.

Of course, the main attraction at South Texas MaiZe is the maze itself, which spans seven acres.

“It’s a day-length neutral photosensitive sorghum sudan grass,” Ken said.

Ken and his family have used the sorghum sudan grass in the maze for 14 of their 15 years, but they’re considering an alternative crop due to the influx of the sugarcane aphid in sorghum across the state.

This year’s maze is designed with the couple’s location, Hondo, in mind. It’s a throwback to the original Hondo “This is God’s Country, Don’t Drive Through it Like Hell” sign.

No matter what the design or temperature, families enjoy their time at maze. It’s not one specific attraction or the other that families enjoy, but rather, the whole experience.

“Everything is so intense and so computer-driven,” Ken said. “There’s hardly any place that you can go, relax and unwind anymore. Here, it’s a blast. Everybody has a wonderful time.”

The maze sees anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 people on Saturdays in October. But that hasn’t stopped the family from making time to celebrate America’s heroes.

The first two weekends of each maze season are dedicated to law enforcement, medical and fire personnel, as well as military members, veterans and their families.

“Those people have always held a close position in our hearts,” Ken said. “When we opened, we decided that would be something we could give back.”

On Veterans Day weekend in November, they again honor the nation’s military families with free admission to the maze.

Ken, Laurie and their staff welcome visitors to their farm with welcome arms and remind them the land they’re walking on is still active in agriculture.

“We want to expose the agricultural way of life to families because a lot of our patrons are city dwellers,” Laurie said. “We want them to understand everything goes back to the farm.”

In fact, once the South Texas MaiZe closes for the year, the maze itself is dealt with promptly.

“We’ll close on Sunday. Monday, we’ll be in here with a hay cutter cutting it down and rolling it up,” Ken said. “It will be used for cow feed for the winter.”

One thing that has helped the Graffs continue to tell their story is the new agritourism bill that was signed into law this session by the governor. The law helps agritourism businesses by limiting liability if certain conditions are met.

“It’s beneficial for everybody from hunting operations to pick-your-own and anybody in the business,” Ken said.

South Texas MaiZe is open through Nov. 15.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Texas+Families+Flock+to+Family+Maze%2C+Farm+Attractions/2296082/276607/article.html.

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