Corn mazes and pumpkin patches across the region will begin opening this weekend. And, among them, is a new fall fun destination: Hipp Farms Corn Maze and Field of Fun in Fuquay-Varina.
Greg Hipp started the farm in 1981. It's since grown into a 2,000-acre operation with tobacco, soybeans, peanuts and sweet potatoes. But, tobacco is no longer the money maker it once was.
"We have decided that if we do not diversify, we are going to lose our crop land," said Felecia Hipp, who married Greg in 2009. "So we decided that to continue to use the land as an agricultural facility, we would also educate the surrounding community and combine the two."
Hipp Farms is scheduled to open to the public (weather permitting) on Saturday. Field trips, birthday parties, corporate team building programs and other group gatherings will begin next week.
Since May, the Hipps, along with their four children, have been working hard to turn about 30 acres into a spot for family fun.
The farm will feature a seven-acre corn maze, stick horse races, tricycle races, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay maze, hayrides and a kiddie train ride.
Felecia Hipp said the couple has been talking for years about turning farmland into a family fun destination. When Felecia closed her business, Ann's Diamond Center, in May, she had more time to devote to the project.
"He has to continue to do the majority of the actual farming," Felecia said. "So it opened up the opportunity for me to do the agritourism."
It's been a family affair. The entire family has helped in various ways to get the farm ready for the public.
"This is something we've wanted to do and I feel like it's just now coming to fruition," Felecia said. "The excitement has been really building this week."
Hipp Farms will remain open through at least Nov. 19, but perhaps longer, depending on the interest. Felecia said they're considering other seasonal events on the farm eventually, such as an Easter egg hunt, strawberry picking and Christmas lights, but, right now, the focus is on this fall.
Hipp Farms will be open to the public noon to 6 p.m., Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m., Sundays. School tours are available Tuesday through Friday.
Tickets are $10 (for ages 3 and up). There are discounts for seniors, military and first responders with ID. A fun park all inclusive package is $20.
Hipp Farms is one of more than six dozen fall fun destinations and events on our fall fun database.