Agricultural Tourism Helps Farmer After Harvest - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Agricultural Tourism Helps Farmer After Harvest

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YAKIMA, Wash -- When is a corn field not a corn field. When it's a gigantic maze.

Seven years ago, Richard Schell turned his field into a corn maze for the fall. Today, he is still doing it, and he is as much an amusement park owner as a farmer.

'We used to farm in excess of two thousand acres," said Schell. "With the prices of the commodities we were slowly going broke."  

Schell still grows melons and other vegetables for his produce stand, but he says he only grows corn for the maze. He runs two mazes -- one in Toppenish and one in Union Gap. They are open the month before Halloween --- and about 35,000 people visit.

The combined revenue from both locations accounts for about 70 percent of his business.

For the life long farmer, making the decision to stop growing corn wasn't easy.  

"Leaving traditional type farming was very difficult, but you learn you have to eat. So you do what's necessary."

He now spends his winters sketching the designs and the summer getting ready. But Schell says the switch was worth it -- and now he loves his new job.