For people worried the pandemic might have canceled their favorite fall activities, several options are back for another year.
The Echo Corn Maze opened its fifth season on Friday, Oct. 2. The 8-acre maze is located at 100 N. Dupont St. in Echo. In addition to the main maze, which takes approximately one hour to complete, the property also includes smaller mazes for young children, a pyramid of hay bales for climbing, a zipline, pumpkin patch and fire pits that can be reserved for group gatherings.
Owner Gina Tyhuis said her family started the maze five years ago to celebrate the adoption of her son. Now, each year is a celebration of that anniversary for their family.
This year they had to do extra work to bring the maze back, after the entire property was covered by water during the extensive flooding of the Umatilla River in February.
“We flooded in the spring and had to start over, so that’s what’s pushed us back some,” she said as she worked to wrap up preparations on the day before the maze opened to the public.
She said the community participation is always “awesome,” including sponsors and volunteers who help make it possible.
The maze opened Friday, Oct. 2 and will stay open through the end of October, Tuesday through Sunday. The haunted Field of Screams version will be available Oct. 17, 24, 30 and 31 from 7-9 p.m. Several special events, including a pumpkin carving demonstration by artist Roger Pope, are also scheduled throughout the month.
In light of COVID-19, masks will be required on the property and hand sanitizing stations will be available. Guests are asked to keep 6 feet apart from other groups and not visit the site if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness or have recently been exposed to COVID-19.
For more information on the maze, including hours and pricing, visit echocornmaze.com or call 509-528-5808.
Bellinger Farms and Gourmet Shoppe at 1823 S. Highway 395 in Hermiston will be offering its pumpkin patch seven days a week. This year’s experience includes a hay bale maze and games, such as corn hole, a photo station and tractor rides. Visitors can also buy food and drinks from the shop and The Gathering Place restaurant.
The pumpkin patch is offering an outdoor pay station and sanitation stations for COVID-19, and is requiring social distancing on the property.
For more information, including times and prices, visit the Bellinger Farms and Gourmet Shoppe Facebook page or call 541-567-5870.
While Halloween events may look different than usual this year, most cities are still holding socially distanced events.
In Hermiston, the annual Downtown Trick or Treat will be a drive-thru version this year on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 4-6 p.m. Businesses and organizations will be set in in the streets and parking lot around the Hermiston Community Center, ready to drop candy into the trunks of vehicles passing through the route. Groups wishing to hand out candy can sign up at bit.ly/treatsonmain2020.
Stanfield Public Library is planning a Fall Festival with games and a haunted library on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 4-8 p.m.
The Boardman Chamber of Commerce is planning a drive-thru trick or treating event at the SAGE Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.
As people make Halloween plans, the Oregon Health Authority has issued guidance on which Halloween activities are consider high, moderate or low risk for COVID-19.
“This year, it’s more important than ever to put safety first because COVID-19 cases have risen recently and holiday gatherings on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day led to increased case counts,” OHA stated in a news release. “So, this Halloween, be extra mindful of your choices.”
Indoor haunted houses or parties are considered high risk and are discouraged, as is traditional trick or treating. Moderate risk activities include visits to outdoor activities such as pumpkin patches where people are wearing masks and social distancing, and outdoor movie nights where people are sitting 6 feet apart and wearing masks.
Low risk activities, recommended for this year, include online watch parties for Halloween movies, online costume contests, at-home pumpkin carving and driving around town to see Halloween decorations.
Traditional Halloween masks with holes for the mouth and eyes do not offer protection from COVID-19, and a mask worn over the nose and mouth for COVID-19 is encouraged with all costumes.