East End corn mazes, pumpkin patches, orchards ready for season

New COVID-19 Guidelines for Agritourism Businesses Ahead of Fall Season

Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill is a favorite stop for kids and families come fall. IndyEastEnd.com/Jarno Huttunen

With fall around the corner, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new state COVID-19 guidelines for agritourism businesses that offer corn mazes, pumpkin picking and hayrides.

These businesses are considered low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment under New York Forward and are permitted to operate during the coronavirus pandemic. Haunted houses are also allowed to open, but petting zoos are not. 

“New York State’s amazing outdoor attractions and recreational opportunities are a boon for families and communities during the fall season each year, and we want New Yorkers to be able to enjoy this time with their family responsibly and safely,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The new guidance announced today will ensure that these businesses can open to the public, allowing families to enjoy their favorite fall activities while providing a boost for our farming communities and local economies.”

Corn mazes and operations that offer pick-your-own fruits or vegetables also will be subject to reduced 33% capacity and face covering requirements. Social distance must be maintained between individuals and parties. 

Hayrides are permitted under guidance consistent with public transportation. They may take only 50% of the people on each ride. Face covering are mandatory, social distance must be maintained between riders, and frequently touched surfaces, like handrails, must be cleaned and sanitized between rides. Petting zoos are not permitted, however.

Haunted houses are also allowed to reopen as low risk indoor arts and entertainment, also with reduced capacities, face covering  requirements and social distance guidelines. 

Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill, which has pumpkin and apple picking and corn mazes, is set to open Saturday, September 12. There are some changes around the farm, including an expansion of the maze park to provide more space for guests, adding more maze park hours to help reduce weekend attendance, and moving the wooden playground into the maze park to track capacity. 

Hand sanitizer and washing stations have been added across the farm, by attractions and at food locations. The owners  also ask that you  only visit Hank’s if you are feeling healthy and do not have symptoms of or a known exposure to COVID-19 within the last 14 days. 

Apple picking at the U-Pick Milk Pail in Water Mill starts Labor Day weekend. Some changes at the orchard include groups larger than 10 having to make reservations, walking in only one directly, and having only one person per party at check out.

While Stakey’s in Aquebogue is offering corn mazes and hayrides, some attractions are suspended, like bounce houses and face painting due to COVID-19.

Farmers markets and craft beverage trails, which have remained open under state guidance, also support agriculture and tourism in the state, Cuomo noted. 

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued a full slate of guidelines for the agricultural industry, including guidance for farmers’ markets and for its food and beverage producers. 

“As one of the nation’s top agricultural states, New York traditionally comes together in the fall to celebrate the harvest—from apples to grapes to pumpkins,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “This year, while things may not look exactly the same on your favorite farm, I am happy to say we can still celebrate agriculture’s bounty and the many family-friendly activities that go with it. With this new guidance, we hope New Yorkers will be able to enjoy some of the best of New York agriculture in a safe and socially distanced manner.” 

taylor@indyeastend.com