The old-fashioned fun Fischer Farms has provided Mid-Missouri for the past 20 years earned recognition from the state Wednesday.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft celebrated the farm's 20 years of operations with a proclamation presented to owners Jay and Kim Fischer.
"I was just totally honored that they would want to come out here and do this," Jay Fischer said. "I never thought that growing a few acres of pumpkins to sell wholesale in Jeff City to Schulte's would have ever turned into what we're at, and I'm just really honored that they came out here to give us this proclamation."
Located just across the Missouri River Bridge from Jefferson City at 1905 Mokane Road, Fischer Farms offers a 10-acre corn maze and a 40-acre pumpkin patch alongside hayrides, live animal viewings and a variety of children's play areas.
It entertains more than 20,000 visitors each year, according to the proclamation.
Guests are free to roam, play in the 250-bushel corn box, buy fresh seasonal produce, pick the perfect pumpkin from the patch or visit the farm's Clydesdale horses, chickens, sheep, piglets and calf, among other activities.
Ashcroft said the proclamation was intended to celebrate a business that's been providing "good, clean fun for the whole family" for decades.
"I just love that they're intentionally working to do things to make this not only a place for kids, but for adults and individuals with disabilities," Ashcroft said. "It is a place for everyone to just have fun and learn a little more about Missouri agriculture, which is wonderful."
Fischer, who has served on the Missouri Corngrowers board for the past 14 years, said it's been his dream to work in agriculture since he was a kid. An important aspect to that, he said, is inviting children and families to enjoy the farm.
"I think it's important for kids to know a little bit about a farm and where food comes from," he said. "They don't come out here just for the fun stuff but maybe they take away a little bit of agriculture education at the same time."
After flooding washed out the farm's crops in the spring of 2019, Fischer and his family returned to the farm and began planting pumpkins and corn for a maze in July. Generally, that's late. Too late to be covered by crop insurance.
"That's dedication," Ashcroft said.
The farm is largely a family operation. Fischer said he employs one full-time employee who does some work in the fields and also helps out in the pumpkin patch during the busy season. A couple part-time employees also help on the weekends.
Since opening the pumpkin patch in 2002, Fischer said his biggest challenge is a feeling that he's not giving farm visitors enough to do.
It's fueled several developments over the years, including a recently built pavilion to host live music, a drink station and hanging tubes for children to play on.
"I'm always trying to come up with a new idea so people don't get bored," he said. "That's a big thing to me."
And there's no end in sight.
"A lot of people, they look forward to retirement. I don't," Fischer said. "I don't have any intention of ever retiring. When you get up everyday and enjoy what you do, why would you ever want to retire."