A Bi-Zi time of year

Each October for the last 14 years, Bi-Zi Farms in Brush Prairie has welcomed approximately 25,000 visitors to Clark County’s only pumpkin patch with a corn maze. And while it may lack in name recognition compared to some of the nearby Oregon mazes, at more than six acres and roughly 250,000 square feet, Bi-Zi makes up for it in fun.

“Every year we get parents afraid their child won’t make it out, but we’ve never found any Halloween skeletons,” said owner Bill Zimmerman. “Sometimes the kids come out first and we have to go back in and find their parents and grandparents.”

Bi-Zi Farms has been in the Zimmerman family since 1872. The current operators, Bill, his wife Peggy and son Doug are the fourth and fifth generation Zimmermans to own and work the farm. Originally called Leaning Oaks, the farm later became known as Zimmerman's Hatchery – Home of Sturdy Chicks.

“Every day I’m concerned whether we’re going to be able to continue to produce and pass this on to the next generation,” Zimmerman explained. “Regulations, mostly around water and irrigation, are making it tougher and tougher.”

Proceeds from the October pumpkin patch are helping to keep Bi-Zi Farms going. According to Zimmerman, the pumpkin patch and corn maze make up roughly 30 percent of the family’s business each year. And with as many as 5,000 people visiting just the corn maze annually, Zimmerman said a lot of care has to go into getting it right.

Planting the maze field begins in late June or early July, slightly later than typical corn planting. This prevents a potential safety hazard of large ears of corn being picked and thrown, according to Zimmerman. Approximately one month after planting, when the corn stalks are about three feet high, Zimmerman spends a day cutting the main path through the maze, letting the cut corn dry before cutting alternate paths in another day’s work.

“I learned that lesson the hard way,” Zimmerman said. “When I tried to do the first one all at once, I couldn’t find my way out for a while. This way, when I hit dry corn, I know which way is out.”

During Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, $8 admission buys visitors a pumpkin, a tractor-pulled hay ride, two tries with giant pumpkin-launching sling shots, entry into the corn maze, corn shelling and grinding and a hot drink of cocoa, cider or coffee. In addition, the farm offers a petting zoo, pony rides and a hay bale maze for youngsters, while live blue grass musicians entertain visitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

For those planning to visit this month, Zimmerman recommends the last weekend in October, or at least in the morning, to avoid the biggest crowds. Farm and pumpkin patch tours for groups are available by appointment.

The family farm store is open May 1 until the end of December, selling locally grown products including flowers, fruit, berries, beans, cabbage and Christmas trees.

For more information, visit bizifarms.com or call 360.574.9119.

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