DONNELLSON — The popularity of “the wave” took it to network television, ESPN and across the internet.
Later this year, fans of the popular new tradition at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium that sees football fans give a wave to the patients at the nearby Stead Family Children’s Hospital will find it somewhere new: a corn maze.
“We thought this would be a really neat idea,” said Adam Hohl, owner of Harvestville Farm with his wife, Julie; and mother, Kathy. “We’ve always loved to get back to the community the best we can and this seemed like the perfect way to do that.
Located about a mile east of Donnellson and about a 75-minute drive from Kinnick Stadium, is a three-season agritourism farm that’s been in Hohl’s family for five generations. During the spring and summer months, the farm offers bedding plants, fresh fruits and vegetables, farm-to-table dinners, and a store featuring home and garden items. However, the main season kicks off in the fall, Hohl said. That’s when they do 40 acres of pumpkins, horse-drawn wagon rides, bonfires and the 10-acre corn maze.
“We basically let our customers guide us,” Hohl said. “Those first couple of years, people kept coming to the farm and they kept wanting to stay. They kept asking, ‘What else can you guys do?’”
While the farm has been in the family for decades, Hohl said the agritourism aspects didn’t begin until 1997, when he started growing pumpkins as a National FFA Organization project. When he left for college, his mom continued with the farm.
Things grew exponentially when Adam and Julie moved back to the farm in 2006, he said.
“We just kind of jumped in feet first to see if we could turn it into a viable business,” he said. “We went from three acres of pumpkins to 30. At that point, it was a very simple corn maze.”
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Beginning in 2007, the Hohls partnered with the Utah-based Maize Company to start doing more intricate maze designs. Over the years, they’ve featured their old logo, a scarecrow and pumpkin and a 10-acre brain for their partnership with a local Alzheimer’s organization.
The idea to incorporate “the wave” into the maze came to the Hohls last fall. In December, they started talking with the University of Iowa’s trademark and marketing department to get clearance to incorporate a likeness of the Children’s Hospital into the design.
“It was such a cool, unique idea and a grass roots movement,” Adam Hohl said. “We’ve had some close friends that have been associated with the Children’s Hospital before.”
The Hohls also are doing a fundraiser with the maze. On every home game in September and October, one dollar of every corn maze admission will be donated to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
While the corn for the maze won’t even be planted until late April or early May, fans have already taken notice. A Facebook post on the Harvestville Farm page showing a rendering of “the wave” maze had been liked approximately 1,500 times and shared more than 1,200 times since Feb. 21.
“We’re excited for it,” Adam Hohl said. “We’re glad so many other people are excited for it.”
The corn maze is scheduled to open Labor Day weekend and will be open every day until Oct. 31.
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