Swank Farms review

Akshay Agrawal

Swank Farms, a Halloween corn maze and pumpkin patch farm, fails to please expectations. 

“Throwing of corn = assault and/or destruction of private property may result in arrest.” That is what visitors of Swank Farms in Hollister, California have to face as a side dish to their family fun. About an hour away, a dirt parking lot welcomes you into basically, nothing at all. The Swank Farms website and brochures show a massive grandeur, hype, and sheer amazing sites, but there was none of that. I felt like i was in a National Lampoon road trip movie, and had found some sort of wax museum about dead bugs or something similarly displeasing. But either way, these places usually have a unique charm and character, the California weather was at its finest, so Swank Farms was mine.
Swank farms has been creating massive corn mazes for years, It also has a unexpectedly small pumpkin patch, as well as a haunted house type exhibit if you choose to make the trek at night. Judging from their website and its aerial-view pictures, the corn maze is absolutely massive. It is.
The fact I parked, did a 360 degree swivel and still didn’t know where to walk first pretty much summed it up, there isn’t much there. There's a bubble thing for kids to jump on trampoline-style, and some hay stacks, but there are very few signs, nothing particularly eye-catching or appealing and not even many people. I was promised family fun and I wasn’t seeing it. But still, out of the car climbed Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Grandfather, and Dog.
There's a relentless feeling of trying a bit too hard, trying to be something it’s not. There are go karts, but they're of the peddle variety. There is a goat walk and a petting zoo, but my Boston terrier attracted more attention, and the ghost-town feel inspired anxiousness and a seething desire to just get home. And, to top off the absolutely unbelievably bursting family fun is a sign hammered into the ground just in front of the ticket office. “No hoodies, No foul language” followed by the infamous flying corn warning.
 I managed to get past the cringe-worthy attempts at Halloween fun and went straight for the maze. It's the main attraction and is why someone visits. It turns out the maze isn’t much of a maze at all, you’re given a map to find words placed around the maze to fill out a paragraph about the maze’s history. What’s a maze if you don’t get lost? However, with enough time to trudge through the entire field (They estimate 1 hour) and a child young enough, it could definitely be a family-pleaser. The reality is, the entertainment definitely isn’t spoon-fed to you happiest-place-on-earth Disneyland style, but its there to be discovered for your own, at the right time, with the right company.
Next was a labyrinth (part of the $10 for a wrist band for entrance to the maze, packages were also available to include the other attractions) This was meant to be a therapeutic process – different stages along the path were meant for thinking through a situation in a different way. Unlike the depressing sites I’d seen to get there, it made sense. If I had a problem that was nagging away at the back of my brain, I’d welcome the process with an open mind, ready feet, and a resistance to throwing corn.
 Many friends were jealous of the fact I was going to such a corn maze, and I was disappointed that they had no reason to be. There’s a lot to be said for the traditional. Gimmicks aren’t necessary. Give us just a maze, a normal maze, no map, the ability to get nerve-shatteringly lost, and we’ll be happy. Simple creatures, us humans.