LINGLE – Dan Ellis has a reputation to upkeep as the guy with the best pumpkins in Goshen County.
For almost 20 years now, Ellis has grown and sold pumpkins for Goshen County and those in surrounding areas. His corn maze started 14 years ago. Every year, Ellis plans out a new design for the corn maze and grows it with the help of The MAiZE, an incorporation based out of Utah that has been creating corn mazes for 25 years. Last year’s maze featured the Charmin bears in honor of the 2020 toilet paper shortage. This year, a “quizzical cow” pokes its head out to say, “Moo.”
The Ellis’ Harvest Home officially opened for the 2021 harvest season on Sept. 25. Families chatted while eating caramel apple cinnamon rolls and kids played in corn boxes. The Ellis family’s dogs roamed around, excited to see so many visitors. Ellis tries to add something new to the activities every year. This year featured farmer basketball.
Ellis always looks most forward to the people that come. He remembers one young couple that first came when they were engaged. The next year, they were married. The year after that, they had a small baby. Now, they have three young children and continue to visit Ellis’ Harvest Home every year.
“It’s fun to watch the families grow as we’ve done this,” Ellis said. “We’re part of their fall tradition, and we appreciate that.”
Ellis tries to keep the maze and other activities as family-friendly as possible. There aren’t any skeletons or ghouls that sit around the maze or pumpkin patch. Kids are free to roam the petting zoo and other activities without fear of coming across the boogeyman.
“We try to keep it all family, and where else can you go out for a whole day?...Fall is always what you look forward to when you’re a farmer because that’s where you collect the reward for what you’ve been doing all year,” Ellis said.
As far as where the quizzical cow for the corn maze comes from, Ellis isn’t really sure.
“One evening, we were talking about what to do for the designers. I said, ‘How about a cow?’ I had the picture in my head already. It was turning its head and going ‘moo.’ My wife and son both went to work. The design is pretty simple, but the maze itself is pretty difficult this year,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ Harvest Home first started as two small pumpkin plants in Ellis’ backyard. He began growing pumpkins as a way to connect with his nieces and nephews during the harvest season. As two plants grew into a few hundred-foot rows and then into an eighth of an acre, Ellis and his family knew it would eventually come down to whether or not they wanted to make a business out of selling pumpkins. They decided to stick with it, and Ellis’ Harvest Home was born.
Since then, the maze, pumpkin patch and other activities have been open rain or shine. Even as the weather gets colder and snow moves in earlier some years than others, guests still come to have fun.
Ellis remembers one year when there was several inches of snow on the ground. One family and their friends had already planned to visit, and they stuck to their plan despite the snow.
“They had snowball fights and they had fun,” Ellis recalls. “It is what you make of it.”
Ellis and his family have enjoyed putting on Ellis’ Harvest Home every year and look forward to the years to come.
“We get a lot of compliments and a lot of people thanking us for doing this, which we find is really quite rewarding.”