The fall season is huge for farms that attract tourists to its pumpkin patches, hay rides and corn mazes. The Parsons family in Springdale started Farmland Adventures in 2011 and last year they had about 14,000 visitors.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture reports that agriculture is Arkansas’ single largest industry. According to the Arkansas Department of Parks and
Tourism, more than 20 million travelers to Arkansas spend in excess of $4 billion annually. The combination of agriculture and tourism is known as agritourism, which means big business.
Farmland Adventures is run by the Parsons family composed of dad Dwayne Parsons and mom LuDonna Parsons and their eight children who range between 18 year of age and four months old.
"I work a 40 hour job but the kids take care of everything out here, which is most of the time so they do a lot of this," Dwayne Parsons said. "A lot of this is their work."
According to Arkansas.com, Agritourism is a bridge between rural and urban Arkansas.
"It's peaceful and relaxing when you come out here to the farm," Parsons said.
The business has a nine-acre corn maze with the theme African Safari designed with GPS technology. The maze tour is almost two miles long and there's a shorter one available.
Trey Parsons, 18, is the oldest son and he's in charge of maintaining the corn maze, which takes many hours.
"My favorite part is being out here everyday and not being told a specific task to do but having a general job," Trey Parsons said.
During the visit, tourists get a wagon ride to feed the cows tortillas. Visitors also see chickens, ducks and pigs in the ride. There are also other animals to learn about and pony rides.
"Agritourism is a growing business," Parsons said. "I don't know how big it's going to get but it's just growing by leaps and bounds."
Even though, they're just open 10 weeks of the year, the family still has to take care of the farm year round to make sure the business thrives.
"It's around the clock, 24-7, 365 days a year," Parsons said. "Somebody has to be here to feed something."
Dwayne Parsons said what he takes away from this family business is the time spent with his wife and children.
"I really like it, the kids, you'll have to ask each one individually but I think we all enjoy it," Parsons said.
Farmland Adventures stays open until November 2nd. Click here for prices.