ANGOLA — Since 2013, Jake and Brooke Ridenour have opened their farm, Ridenour Acres, to the public in the fall for family-friendly events and activities.
Ever since, the farm has added new activities and has grown, all to continue to serve the community and have a family-friendly fall experience for people to turn into an annual tradition.
“Hearing people say our farm is their new fall tradition and getting that recognition makes everything we do all worth it,” Brooke said.
Brooke comes from a very close-knit family that loves spending time together.
Jake said one night they were sitting around the campfire and the idea to start a fall corn maze was pitched.
“We thought we could sell a few pumpkins, do the maze and maybe have a few people show up,” he said.
A maze was planted in 2012, but because of a severe drought, they decided not to open as the corn only got about waist-high. That made 2013 the first official season open for business.
The 2017 season was the first season they saw the need to have someone directing traffic for parking because the parking area was completely full.
The work for the season begins well before fall, as the maze has to be planted in time for it to grow.
Jake’s full-time job outside the farm is for an agriculture GPS company that works with a software that lets people design and cut corn mazes. He’s helped several other people cut them and decided to do the same for his own farm.
Once the corn is about eight inches in height, he gets on a zero-turn tractor and cuts out the maze, following the GPS software.
“It’s the easiest part to do,” he said.
When August rolls around each year, the set-up work for the season really kicks off.
Both agreed it’s a lot of work, but completely worth it. They enjoy hearing families say it’s great to be able to come out and enjoy a day where the children aren’t wrapped up in their gadgets.
It’s this time they spend out on the property making sure everything is set and ready for opening day.
Jake’s made it his goal to add at least one new thing to the farm each season. For the 2018 season, that new activity is a corn cannon.
Participants take a corn cob and shoot it at one of two targets using the specially-loaded guns. A video of the corn cannon can be seen on the farm’s Facebook page, @RidenourAcres.
The Ridenour’s also host events throughout the season on the farm for different groups including area scout troops, schools, daycares and more. They’ve also hosted company parties, family reunions and a few weddings.
When area sixth grade students have come to visit, Jake gives them a presentation on the GPS program used to cut the corn maze.
Activities on the farm this year include the corn maze which was designed with help from Olivia Stoy, the combine jungle gym, the corn pit, hay rides, the barrel tractor, pick your own pumpkins, bounce horse racing, duck races, the tile slide, a bounce house and the trick or treat trail around Halloween.
The season begins on Sept. 15 with the Liv it Up 5k run/walk, benefitting the Liv it Up foundation Olivia Stoy is working toward starting after using the platform to raise the funds she needed for a bone marrow transplant.
Now that she’s got her funds, she wants to continue Liv it Up to raise money for other families affected by childhood cancers. The Ridenour family hopes to help make her dream a reality.
Jake said they knew the farm, maze and other events could work as fundraisers for different causes, and that’s one of the things they enjoy using the platform of Ridenour Acres for.
The farm will be open weekends from Sept. 15 to Oct. 28 and is located at 2935 E. 20N., Angola.