When I think of fall, of course I think of Halloween! And when I think of Halloween, I think of those crisp fall days, leaves crunching under my feet, pumpkin patches, costumes and….dun dun dun – spooky nights! One of the best places to experience everything I think of about when it comes to fall is Maris Farms!
No matter where in Washington you live, Maris Farms is worth the drive down south to Buckley. What started as a “humble and quaint pumpkin patch” can now be best described as, “the Nordstrom of pumpkin patches.” That description couldn’t be any more on point!
Truth be told, I didn’t grow up in Washington – I’m a California-native who considers Washington to be home now; but my family is spread out all over the country, so in reality, home is where I make it. Right now, West Seattle is my home.
I wasn’t very familiar with Maris Farms until a few years ago, when I still lived in Auburn with my now ex-husband and frequented Northwest Brewery, just down the street from my home in Lakeland Hills.
I became friends with Jenny, one of the Northwest Brewery bartenders. She introduced me to two of my future What’s Up NW writers – her sister, Michelle and her sister-in-law, Lindsay! I basically feel like I’ve befriended most of Jenny’s family.
One day, Jenny told me her maiden name was Maris of Maris Farms. At the time, I’m sure I had a blank look on my face, not realizing the significance of her family heritage. After a pair of visits to Maris Farms this past weekend, I am now hooked on making this magical place a part of my new fall traditions!
I asked my boyfriend, Kyle, if he was interested in getting a behind-the-scenes tour of Maris Farms with me for Halloween and he happily obliged – he is from Washington and has spent many of his October weekends at the farm, breathing in all that is autumn in the Pacific Northwest. We hit up the farm on a spooky Friday night with the ever-increasing threat of rain all day. Thankfully, it stayed dry the entire evening for us!
Steve Templeman – brother-in-law of Jenny’s dad, Dale Maris (more on him later!!) – gave Kyle and I an insider’s look at what goes on beyond the dark and scary Haunted Woods. Prior to that, we started our evening with some paint ball shooting (I sucked at it, I won’t deny it) and then tried our hand at the Two-Minute Hot Seat Escape Room (yeah, we failed at that too…but we had fun!).
Steve took us to the actors’ trailer, where the Haunted Woods magic happens – costumes and makeup. There we met makeup artist and costume extraordinaire, Ronnie Edwards, and learned how many man hours it takes to get all of the characters ready to scare guests who paid good money to be terrified.
Then it was time to make our way to the Haunted Woods, presented by Goodwill.
The Haunted Woods is a 35-minute creepy quest through the corn with around-the-corner, emotional roller coaster thrills through the forest. I was slightly nervous. Truth be told, it takes a lot to scare me, especially when I’m ready to be spooked with every nook and cranny we pass. I was beyond excited to see a character dressed as Pennywise almost immediately – as sweet a girlfriend as I am, Kyle is not a fan of clowns. Pennywise tried to taunt me and I said, “Hello best friend, I love you and just so you know,” then lowering my voice to a whisper and pointing towards Kyle, “he doesn’t like clowns.” Poor Kyle had Pennywise lingering around him the rest of the evening, much to my delight.
The Haunted Woods lived up to its reputation, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single character we came across. All of the actors were absolutely phenomenal and I loved how each of them interacted with us. Everyone stayed true to character, whether they played a demon, a demented prisoner, a goblin or a ghost. It was so much fun! Having seen the amount of work that went into their hair, makeup and costumes beforehand, I had an even better appreciation of what I was experiencing.
I went back two days later on Sunday with one of my best friends, Mishana, to check out the daytime activities! Maris Farms is much less spookier in the daytime. It just so happened to be a gorgeous, sunny day (and honestly, it was quite warm!).
For us social media lovers, Maris Farms provides the perfect backdrop to take the most Instagrammable photos – from the pumpkin patch to the tractors to Mt. Rainier rising up in the background, there really isn’t a bad place to take a photo with friends, family or one’s self.
There are so many family activities – cow train rides, a bounce house, steer roping, apple blasters, tug o’ war, live pig and duck races, a live honeybee hive. There is so much to do and so much room to do it! This small list of activities only touches the surface of all there is to experience!
Also, come hungry! So many delicious food options, including my favorite, anything from Blazing Bagels (hot dogs wrapped in a Blazing Bagel wrap – that comes in several different flavors – can you say food coma heaven?)! Unfortunately, that line was too long and we didn’t have much time left to visit so I settled (not really, they were so delicious!) for pulled pork sliders with a little mustard from what may be the best invention of all time, a Condiment Cow. So good and so funny!!
Mishana and I had the chance to chat with one of the owners, Dale Maris, and I cannot begin to tell you what an incredible person he is. We caught him just as he was finishing changing out some propane tanks and putting the empty ones on something like this Storemasta gas bottle trolley ready to roll away. He is truly a roll-up-your-sleeves/elbow-grease kinda guy. Dale dairied on the farm for more than 15 years before selling his herd and turning it into what it is today with the help of his sister, Joanne, and his mother-in-law, Kay.
He talked with us about the evolution of the farm and how they have tried out different attractions over the years – some things being a hit, some things not. He also talked about having an eye for all the details that go into the Halloween attractions. While it is more on the pricier side to visit Maris Farms, Dale wants customers to experience what they pay for, and it shows. The buildings are good quality construction, the pathways are wide, the corn maze is cut to perfection (by the way, I had no idea there was a Corn Maze Convention every year – Dale explained to us how corn mazes are actually planted, and it was FASCINATING!), the grounds are clean – and as I told Dale, even the portable restrooms were incredibly clean AND smelled nice!
Sister Joanne makes sure a lot of the ideas/venues/activities that Dale and Mike Meeks (another partner in the business) come up with are put into play with the proper staffing and execution. She is primarily in charge of day-to-day operations as well as handling a staff of more than 250 employees during October.
There is no detailed missed at Maris Farms, and even though it was my first time visiting, I plan to now go back every year and make it my own tradition. The staff are incredible.
I already knew I loved the family, and now I know how much work goes on behind the scenes! I highly recommend making Maris Farms a part of your family’s fall tradition (if you haven’t already).
As a side note, they are expanding outside of just the fall event with corporate and private events during the spring/summer as well as weddings – imagine having your wedding day with Mt. Rainier in the background of your ceremony and reception – think about that soon-to-be-brides!
25001 Sumner-Buckley Hwy
Buckley, WA 98321