It may still be summer but the fall season will be here before you know it and that means one of Minnesota's favorite fall traditions — the Sever's Fall Festival — will be returning with plenty of family fun activities and attractions.
The 2021 Sever's Fall Festival, located at 3121 W. 150th St. in Shakopee, will be open and ready to celebrate this year's harvest Friday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 31 and will be open extended days and hours during the Minnesota Educator Academy fall break on Thursday, Oct. 21 and Friday, Oct. 22.
Come and explore Sever's Fall Festival's 25th season and navigate paths in the largest corn maze in Minnesota. It is also home to the second oldest corn maze in the United States and the oldest in the Midwest.
The family farm was settled in 1890 by Sever Peterson and is still in operation by Sever Peterson III, his wife, Sharon, and the fourth generation of Petersons. Peterson III and his wife first had the idea of a corn maze in 1997 after hearing about the hedge mazes of Europe from one of their agricultural exchange students from England.
"We started off as just a corn maze in 1997 and we've morphed much more into a fall festival. At the time, we got more people than we anticipated, so we started selling cookies and we weren't really sure what to expect," said Nicola Peterson, spokeswoman for the Sever's Fall Festival. "My father-in-law (Sever Peterson III) is third generation in the Shakopee area farming and a lot of his colleagues thought it was nuts to think people would pay to walk through a corn field. But here we are 25 years later and not only that but they've become really popular nationwide."
Mermaids, unicorns and the Loch Ness Monster, oh my!
This year’s corn maze theme will be Mythical Creatures and will include a host of fantasy and legendary characters like a mermaid, unicorn and the Loch Ness Monster. Other family friendly activities include a children's obstacle course, a corn pit and extreme corn pit (with more than 10,000 bushels of corn in each), an exotic animal petting zoo, a wildlife show presented by Safari North Wildlife Park and live music from the Blue Ox Jazz Babies.
"My husband is actually a fourth generation on the farm and we have four young children and it's been fun because they're a large part of our inspiration not only to add to our activities and attractions but to our maze themes," said Nicola. "My kids are very into unicorns, mermaids, dragons and the whole nine yards. We thought that would be fun to do that in a maze form."
But that's not all, fall festival goers can also enjoy giant jumping pillows for kids and adults, a tire mountain, zip lines, magic shows and juggling, a kiddie train, pig races, a straw bale maze, antique tractors and firetrucks. Additional activities include pony rides ($5 per ride), a giant slide ($2 per mat), pumpkin blasters ($5 for 8 shots), apple express ride ($4 to $5), hay rides ($1 per rider ages 4 and up. Kids 3 and under are free), arcade ($1 to $2). Attendees may also pick their own pumpkins and purchase apples (prices may vary).
Nicola said they cut their maze each season by hand and strive to add new activities and entertainment to the fall festival. She said the festival will also feature an artisan market and the vendors site has also been expanded.
"It's really what we call 'agritainment' which is a new word in the industry. We are farmers by trade and our main attraction is our corn maze that changes every year that we cut by hand," said Nicola. "Then we added activities and attractions throughout the years. It's a way for people in the metro area and those that aren't in the metro area, to come back to their agricultural roots and do so in a fun way with their family and friends."
Nicola said it has been rewarding to see generations of families enjoy the festive fall event. She also said fall festivals are a great way for a small family businesses to expand and diversify so they aren't too dependent on grain prices.
"This is our 25th year, so it's been really rewarding for us as a small family business to see parents come with their children and those children have their own children and it's multi-generational," said Nicola. "We also have a lot of people that come on dates. We have friends who had their first date at the fall festival and now they're married with three kids. So we see people of all different ages and there's something for everyone."
Nicola encourages visitors to come and experience the magic that is the Sever's Fall Festival and see why it is considered a local gem.
"I think that the best thing about it is that it's fun for all ages. You can go there with your children or your parents and everyone is going to find something that they enjoy," she said. "We also really enjoy offering to people the chance to get back to their agricultural roots. So many of us here in Minnesota have them. Whether it was a grandparent, aunt or uncle or our parents themselves. I think it's a way for people to get outdoors and enjoy what is generally a lovely fall day and enjoy being back on the farm."