Chilly air is coming, but don’t despair! That chilly air brings with it the fall season, and all the fun family-friendly activities that you know and love. There’s no better place to get your Halloween tricks and treats than the Thurston Bountiful Byway. Starting in September, these places along the byway below have everything from pumpkin patches and crazy corn mazes to haunted houses and even an organized “Thriller” dance.

You can contact Experience Olympia & Beyond for a Thurston Bountiful Byway map and self-guided tour brochure.

Rutledge Corn Maze 2018
This year’s Rutledge Corn Maze benefits the American Cancer Society. Photo credit: Justin Oba

Rutledge Corn Maze

The Rutledge family has been farming in Thurston County since the 1800s; they have owned their current farm since 1992. Activities at the farm include their a-maze-ing corn maze, pumpkin patch, haunted maze, zombie paintball apocalypse, a corn and a cow train, “spookley” story time, and arts and crafts (Saturdays and Sundays), corn hole, ladder ball, a swing set, corn cannons, and more to be announced.

The Rutledge Corn Maze is definitely something to see. Professionally and expertly designed each year with a different theme, it’s acres of fun for the whole family. This year, the Rutledges partnered with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Thurston County, an American Cancer Society (ACS) event. “We are so fortunate to have this partnership,” shares Autumn Cummings, event lead for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Thurston County, “and can’t say thank you enough for the opportunity to be working with them this year and having such a unique way to share the mission.”

“We lost my grandfather who started us in the corn growing business to cancer,” shares Robby Rutledge, when asked why they chose this charity. His grandfather also played a big part in starting the maze. “We lost my grandmother recently to cancer as well. We also are doing it because we think it is a worthy cause.”

Haunting for Dollars will happen October 14 this year and will be the main fundraising event for ACS. Tickets go on sale at 6:00 p.m. that night and the haunt opens at 8:00 p.m. “We bring in several of our more experienced actors to ensure that the show is a great success,” says Robby. He adds that he wouldn’t recommend this event for children under 10-years-old. Their goal is to raise $25,000 for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, so come to the farm, go through the maze, and donate to a cause that affects us all.

Aside from the Haunting for Dollars event, the farm has a haunted maze on other nights too. The haunted maze is scary! “It can be very scary,” cautions Robby. “However, I find that it depends on each person. We do not recommend it for anyone under the age of 10.”

Rutledge’s corn maze, haunted maze and zombie paintball apocalypse opens September 22, while the pumpkin patch opens September 29. For more information, visit the Rutledge Corn Maze website.

Bucoda Haunted Gym
The BOO-CODA SPOOKTACULAR transforms a creepy brick gym into a haunted house. Enter if you dare! Photo courtesy: Bucoda

BOO-CODA

Since 2012, the town of Bucoda has transformed its quaint feel to a creepy one for the fall season, becoming the BOO-CODA SPOOK-TACULAR! Mayor Alan Carr explains the event is a way to raise awareness of the small town and draw visitors, but also as a fundraiser for community projects. While the Town of Bucoda puts on the BOO-CODA SPOOK-TACULAR, an ad-hoc committee works on all the events and Scary-nights puts on the haunted house. The net proceeds raised by BOO-CODA SPOOK-TACULAR and Scary-nights Haunted House go to community projects, the community center, and gymnasium.”

Highlights include the award-winning haunted house; hearse procession and viewing (October 13); pumpkin carving, ghost story telling, and coloring contests (October 20), pumpkin pancake breakfasts (every Saturday in October), and trick-or-treating (every night in October).

Get ready to dance on October 27, when Bucoda Thriller hits the streets to help break a world record. Happening everywhere around the globe, this event has a goal to make a new world record for most peopled dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The Bucoda Thriller event is made special by the “Thrill the Boot” fundraiser for the Bucoda Firefighter Association. See a firefighter dancing with a boot? Throw some money in! Money raised helps local families in need throughout the year.

All the fun starts October 1 and you can visit the BOO-CODA SPOOK-TACULAR Facebook page for up-to-date events and news. You can get $2 off coupons for the haunted house at the following locations:

  • Tenino: Market Fresh, Scatter Creek Winery, the Iron Works Boutique, City Hall, and Aunt Kate’s Chocolates
  • Bucoda: Joe’s Place
  • Tumwater and Centralia Timberland Bank locations
Schilter Family Farm Corn Maze
The Schilter Family Corn Maze was created to raise awareness for ALS. Photo courtesy: Schilter Family Farm

Schilter Family Farm

Since 1930, the Schilter Family Farm has operated on the Thurston Bountiful Byway. This third-generation farm started their Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Patch in 1997.

Everything at Schilter Farm is family friendly with tons for the kids to do. They have a Fort Nisqually to explore, pumpkin bowling, corn hole, cow head roping, pumpkin cannons, and more in the works. Bring your camera, as the photo ops are as abundant as pumpkins.

Like Rutledge Farm, the Schilter Family Farm has an awesome corn maze, grown for a good cause. The maze was created in the likeness of Lou Gehrig this year, to raise awareness for ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease with proceeds from their activities going to the ALS Association. “Our pastor from our parish, Fr. Jim Lee at Saint Michael Parish in Olympia, was diagnosed with ALS back in November,” shares Stephanie Schilter. “We are wanting to show our support and our love for him, as well as help the organization that is striving to find a cure.”

The farm opens September 29. For more information, visit the Schilter Family Farm website.

Hunter Family Farm
At the Hunter Family Farm, you can take a train ride, pet a baby goat and pick the perfect pumpkin. Photo courtesy: Hunter Family Farm

Hunter Family Farm

Hunter Family Farm has tons of family-friendly fall activities, from a European super slide and pillow jump to baby goats, pumpkins and corn mazes. “Everything is family friendly for all ages, nothing too scary,” says Tami Hunter. “The older kids and adults enjoy the giant corn maze, pillow jump, animals, European super slide, pumpkin sling shot, wagon ride to the patch, and picking out a pumpkin.

They have some unique fun in store too, like the ducky race, where you purchase a rubber ducky for a $1, put it in a trough and then push an old-fashioned water pump to create a flow of water that sends your ducky across the finish line.

“We look forward to sharing our farm with the public and contributing to wonderful memories and traditions for families,” Tami adds. “Also, the baby goats! They are so cute and hilarious and people love them as much as we do.”

You can’t have a farm without a corn maze and they have two, the giant maze is four acres and the junior corn maze is one acre. In the giant maze, look for clues to solve a mystery. We asked for a hint on this year’s theme, but Tami wasn’t giving anything away. “Our mystery theme in the corn maze is still a mystery!” she says mysteriously.

All this fun at the Hunter Family Farm starts September 29. For more information, visit the Hunter Family Farm website.

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