Since 2007, the DeVries Friend-ly Farm has been a fall family fun staple for Olathe and the surrounding area.
Between the annual Punkin’ Chunkin’, the corn maze and the pumpkin patch, there’s plenty for families to experience.
Pam Friend, owner of DeVries Produce, said Monday she keeps the fun going not just for the business side of things, but to see smiles on peoples’ faces.
“You can spend time with your children out in the country — and it’s that family time together. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
The corn maze and Friend-ly Farm started in 2007. Pam’s son, Randy, had gone to Colorado State University, where he studied agriculture, and he and the family put their heads together to come up with an agritourism venture.
“(Agritourism) at that time was kicking off, and people wanted the chance to go out and see and experience the farm,” Pam said. “It’s attractive to tourists — it’s attractive to anyone who isn’t living on a farm.”
Through the years, the corn maze has taken on various forms.
From the ground level, a maze solver can’t tell, but from the air, the shapes within the maze are a marvel. Pam has the Olathe Spray Service take shots from the air every year.
In 2012, it was designed as a Pirates and Indians theme, based on the Montrose and Olathe high school mascots. In 2016, it was (unofficially) a Denver Broncos logo. “It was close to a Denver Bronco but wasn’t,” Pam said, noting how the Broncos would have liked a cut of the profits if the likeness was too similar.
One year, it was themed after the Star Drive-In movie theater in Montrose, which Pam also owns. This year, the maze has taken on a jack-o-lantern Halloween theme.
Every year, Pam makes sure everyone sees the hard work — and the artistry — that go into making the corn maze.
Her son Randy, the farmer, worked within the perimeter of an oddly angled 8-acre patch of corn to make the design. From there, the Friends worked with a local surveying company to map the land using GPS. Using tractors, four-wheelers and a little bit of sweat, they plow areas of the land visitors walk on as they weave their way through the maze.
Randy’s son — Pam’s grandson — Jack helps. The 13-year-old explained Monday how he helped flatten some of the ditches around the land with his four-wheeler, all the while having fun.
Jack, as Pam led a short tour around the family fun area, demonstrated jumping into a pit full of corn. It was a “whole trailer full,” Jack said. Those who visit can take a slide into the corn, like a rural ball or foam pit.
There’s also a straw-bale maze for younger kids. Pumpkins go flying from cannons during the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Oct. 26.
Younger than the corn maze and the family fun is the produce shop at the front of their parcel of land. In 2010, Pam lost her mother, Elizabeth DeVries, who had owned the land with her husband George since 1943. When she passed, the family divvied up pieces of the land. In 2011, Pam and her husband dumped their life savings into the produce shop, which sees a lot of business.
As a whole operation, it’s been “very, very profitable,” Pam said. “It’s been good to us.”
At 68, she wants to keep going, offering fresh produce and family fun during the fall.
Justin Tubbs is the managing editor for the Montrose Daily Press.
•DeVries Produce, The Friendly Farm is located north of Montrose on Highway 50 between mile markers 85 and 86.
•Corn maze, straw bale maze, pumpkin patch open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Halloween.
•Night maze begins Oct. 11 and goes every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m.
• Olathe Volunteer Fire Department 17th annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ & Fall Festival takes place Saturday, Oct. 26, with a haunted maze.