During the fall season, Petals & Plows Greenhouse on the Kaufman farm comes to life, hosting corn mazes, fall festivals and other spooky events.

The farm, located at 9129 Kaufman Road, north of Ripon off County Road E, has become a must-visit fall destination for many area families looking for the biggest bang for their buck, according to marketing and events manager Haley Hartung-Kaufman.

Its corn maze opened for the season Saturday, Sept. 4 and runs through October.

In the coming weeks, Petals & Plows will host special events, including a pork roast, a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and its Corn Maze After Dark event.

To learn more about this fall’s spooky events, the Commonwealth caught up with Hartung-Kaufman for a Q&A.

Here’s the conversation:

Q. How long has the Kaufman farm hosted its corn maze?

A. My in-laws, JoAnn and Wayne Kaufman, opened the corn maze in 2013, so it’s been around for quite awhile. We saw a huge uptick in traffic about two years ago. Last year not a lot of places were open that were a lot of fun for parents to take their kids and safely social distance. What better way to social distance than on a farm, in a corn maze? You’re outside and you’re away from other families.

Q. Last weekend, you hosted a big event. What did it entail?

A. We hosted our customer appreciation corn roast that we typically do, but I called it our “Fall Harvest Basherie.” We had 500 to 700 ears of corn and it was completely free. We had about 10 vendors, we had animals and we had a large selection of mums.

We also had Jim Counter playing music. We really wanted, this year and last year, to create a place for people to capture their family moments and take pictures. We’re really known for our great value of mums and pumpkins, but while they come here and shop, there’s the perk of all these things that they can do to create a family memory.

Q. You’re hosting a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Saturday, Oct. 9. What will that event consist of?

A. I did it for the first time last year because they were talking about canceling Halloween. I have a 5 and a 10 year old and a lot of people look forward to Halloween. It was a huge success last year. I’ve been in retail management for 20 years and I’m always looking to give the consumer their money’s worth, so we’re trying something a little different this year.

Last year, I had so many requests to do night mazes. I was worried, not doing a lot of events like this before and then having a full-time management job, that I was not going to have enough time. JoAnn and Wayne are extremely supportive — this is their maze and their place and my husband, Wade Kaufman, helps run it. They always say, “Haley, you can do whatever you want as long as you’re in charge.” That’s a lot. But this year, I felt like I could handle a little more, so I decided to do a few night mazes this year.

On Oct. 9, there won’t be anything scary in the maze and we encourage parents to grab a flashlight and explore the maze with their kids. We encourage adults to have fun, wear costumes and dress up for the Not-So-Scary Halloween. We’ll discount our prices because I want people to come here and not have to worry about, “Will I have to put off a bill to take my kids to something fun?” That’s a big focus of mine.

Q. When will the scarier night maze event be?

A. The After Dark Corn Maze event is Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 30. If people buy a ticket, they can come either day. They can’t come both days. There is a complimentary ticket on the back with a 2022 corn maze pass. We won’t have people jumping out while individuals are doing the maze, but I want to create some illusions. I want people to question what they just saw. There’s an element of surprise, adventure and scariness with a corn maze. With a haunted house, if somebody’s in trouble, the manager can get to them within a certain amount of time. In a corn maze, there’s a lot of variables. That’s why it’s a prepaid event because I need to know how many people are coming for safety, so I can have enough people in the maze if someone needs help.

Q. Describe the Costume Weekend Saturday, Oct. 23 and Sunday, Oct. 24?

A. The big thing about that is we’re going to encourage kids to come in costumes and for every corn maze ticket we sell, we’ll donate a dollar to the Boys & Girls Club. We’ll also have candy and trick-or-treating. It will be a fun little weekend for kids to go through the maze in their costumes. We also do tractor rides on the weekends. Those are free, but we do take donations.

Q. You’re also partnering with the Winnebago County Farm Bureau to host an event Oct. 2. What will that event look like?

A. We’re hosting a pork roast with the Winnebago County Farm Bureau. You can visit their website, and you actually order your food from them and then pick it up here. If you don’t order it, you can still come by. We’ll have live entertainment here as well. It’ll be another fun thing to do.

Q. Why is it so important to Petals & Plows and the Kaufman farm to host fall events?

A. I think giving back to your community and having a safe space is important. It’s been a really tough couple of years. From working in retail management, there is a completely different vibe from people buying essentials in a store versus here at a farm where they just completely changed modes. It’s a completely different atmosphere, and it’s a little more laid back.

Q. What makes it fun for you?

A. Just seeing the pictures and knowing that people had a good time. One of my favorite memories was when a mom dressed up and brought her little girl and you could tell she was making a memory with her kid and that was priceless for her. Just providing a place to build those memories is huge.

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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