Just off Highway 169 on Shakopee’s southwest side sits 100 acres of newly-purchased land.

If you drive by it on a weekday, you might just miss the windy, gravel driveway that leads to what Mitch Michaelson of Sever’s Farm says is the go-to fall destination for families in the community. But on the weekend, an open field is converted to a parking lot and upward of 1,000 guests will flock to Sever’s Farm Festival to navigate the corn maze, choose their pumpkins, gnaw on a caramel apple and relax in a giant corn pit. You know, things only true Minnesotans do on a Saturday afternoon in the fall.

Sever’s Farm Festival increased in size this year to create more room for the activities that have attracted thousands of guests for 23 years. Open on the weekends in the fall, the festival now has a nine-acre pumpkin patch and 700 apple trees that Michaelson said will be an apple orchard in a couple years, when the 700 newly-planted trees reach maturity.

The theme this year is dinosaurs, which was also the theme for its first year in 1997.

“We’re aiming for a fresh start, because we’re at this new location,” Michaelson said.

Michaelson and his family created a dinosaur-shaped corn maze without a GPS. They cut down the corn by hand using a grid-like system.

“Like graph paper, but on a massive scale,” Michaelson said.

Michaelson’s father-in-law Sever Peterson and his family were inspired by hedge mazes in Europe to create what they say was the first corn maze in the Midwest in 1997.

Until this year, the festival has been held on 40 acres adjacent to Canterbury Park. At its new location, Michaelson said there will be more artwork, more food and more beverages. In addition to the corn maze, corn pit and pumpkin patch, there is a pumpkin shooting range, a petting zoo, a giant slide and pony rides. And Brian Sobaski, a local artist who makes sculptures for the farm, made a brand-new pterodactyl nest out of hay to fit this year’s dinosaur theme. Families can take photos inside the nest.

In addition to the fall festival, Michaelson said Sever’s will operate a drive-through holiday lights display from the end of November to the end of December.

“And then I’ll probably go on a vacation,” Michaelson said, laughing.

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