News Columns & Blogs

Drought downsizes Halloween corn maze near Patterson

“California … Dying of Thirst” is the theme for the 12th annual corn maze at Fantozzi Farms near Patterson. Paul and Denise Fantozzi said they had to cut their maze down to 13 acres because of the water shortage. The maze is open through Halloween.
“California … Dying of Thirst” is the theme for the 12th annual corn maze at Fantozzi Farms near Patterson. Paul and Denise Fantozzi said they had to cut their maze down to 13 acres because of the water shortage. The maze is open through Halloween. Fantozzi Farms

Fantozzi Farms is celebrating Halloween, and lamenting the drought, in the 2014 version of its corn maze near Patterson.

The maze shrank from its usual 25 acres to 13 because of the water shortage, said Denise Fantozzi, who owns the farm with her husband, Paul. The land is in the Del Puerto Water District, which has had especially severe cutbacks this year.

That has not stopped visitors from enjoying the maze, Fantozzi said. It is as elaborate – and as exasperating for a lost soul – as any in the 12 years the farm has been doing this.

Viewed from the sky, the maze bears the words “California ... Dying of Thirst.” It also depicts the grim-faced farmers in “American Gothic,” the 1930 painting by Grant Wood.

The somber tone is a departure for Fantozzi Farms, which has designed some of its previous mazes to celebrate more positive news. In 2009, it was Patterson’s centennial. Last year, it was Colin Kaepernick, a few months after the Turlock-reared quarterback played in the Super Bowl.

The three-year drought has reduced water supplies by varying degrees in the San Joaquin Valley. The Del Puerto district and several others on the West Side got zero this year from the federal Central Valley Project. Fantozzi Farms used water purchased from elsewhere to create the half-size maze.

It will be open through Halloween, along with a pumpkin patch, hay-bale pyramids and other attractions. “People still enjoy the activities, even with the smaller maze,” Fantozzi said.

The pumpkins grew on land with a better water supply, as did the family’s apricots earlier in the year.

After the maze closes, the dry cornstalks will be chopped and sold as cattle feed – a welcome source for dairy farmers suffering from the drought, too.

Fantozzi is at 2665 Sperry Ave. Hours, prices and other information is at (209) 892-2015 or www.fantozzifarms.com. The website features aerial shots of mazes dating to 2003.

Got an idea for the Farm Beat? Contact John Holland at jholland@modbee.com or (209)578-2385.

  Comments