Richardson Farm in Northern Illinois is widely known for being one of the most successful agritourism farms in the country.
Agritourism, a term coined in the late 1970s, involves agriculturally-based activities that bring visitors to a farm. Agritourism encompasses everything from roadside produce stands and pick-your-own farms to wine tasting, cheesemaking demonstrations, honey tasting, horseback riding and corn mazes.
Agritourism connects the public to the rich heritage of America’s Heartland.
Richardson Farm has taken argritourism to a whole new level, preserving farmland traditions through agritainment. Today, the farm is known as Richardson Adventure Farm, for good reason! There’s always an adventure at the farm.
Richardson Adventure Farm: A Brief History
Robert Richardson emigrated to Lake County, Illinois in 1840. For decades, Richardson Farm focused on pigs, but a surplus of pork in 1998 caused the pig market to crash.
Fortunately, the Richardson family had already taken its first step into agritourism by offering cut-your-own Christmas trees. The Christmas tree income buffered the blow of the pig market crash, but it didn’t save the farm.
Like many family farms in the United States, the Richardson Farm was at risk of failure if the pig market didn’t rebound.
And, when the pig market did not recover quickly, the Richardsons realized they had to diversify to save the farm.
Already in the Christmas tree market, they decided to add fall corn mazes to their agritourism offerings.
After attending a corn maze seminar, they opened their first corn maze in 2001.
Today, the Richardson Farm corn maze sits on 28 acres and offers 10 miles of maze to more 50,000 visitors annually. Guests can also enjoy pig races (a nod to the family’s farming history), singing chickens, bon fires, hay rides, a giant slide and more.
More recently, Richardson Adventure Farm has grown to meet the agritainment demand, offering a spring tulip festival, a late summer sunflower festival, and special events throughout the year.
AGRITAINMENT: The promotion of farms as places to visit for entertainment (e.g. tractor rides, corn mazes) — Source
The making of an agritourism corn maze!
Do you know how corn mazes are made? I sure didn’t!
Each Richardson Farm corn maze centers on a theme.
When I went, the Richardson Farm corn maze honored the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first album release.
The family comes up with a rough sketch or design idea and then submits it to an Idaho corn maze designer. Yes, such a job exists! The family and maze designer fine-tune it throughout the winter.
In late May, when the corn is about knee high, the corn maze designer comes to the farm and plots out the maze using GPS attached to his tractor/tiller.
Then, as summer goes on, the family clears those paths, turns the corn under, widens paths to 6 feet, and levels the dirt — it’s amazing really!
They add lookout bridges, check-points, games, and directional signs to the maze to help tourists navigate.
In August, a fabulous maze with 10 foot tall walls of corn stalks is ready for guests to enjoy!
This Year’s Corn Maze Theme: The 2023 Richardson Farm corn maze theme is JURASSIC PARK!
Besides the challenge of mastering the corn maze, the Richardson Adventure Farm staff created several games for kids of all ages to enjoy in the corn maze.
Some games are as quick as 10 minutes and others take up to two hours. Some games are just for fun, like the “Finger Sillies Maze Game.” Other games are more agritourism focused, incorporating farm education into the entertainment, like the “Farm Tracks Maze Game.”
Purchase tickets to the Richardson Adventure Farm and Corn Maze online. Prices start at $20 and include all the activities at the farm.
More Agritourism at Richardson Farm
While the Christmas trees and corn maze have been part of the Richardson Adventure Farm experience for decades, newer events draw people in each year. Visit Richardson Farm anytime of the year for a memorable agritourism experience.
Richardson Adventure Farm Tulip Festival
Set on 35 acres next to the Richardson Farm private lake, the tulips bloom between mid-April and mid-May. There’s free parking on a grassy lot near the tulip fields.
Enjoy free games like giant checkers, jenga and cornhole, as well as live music on weekends and food trucks near the lake.
Well-behaved pets on leashes are welcome, but please clean up after them.
A walking trail along the lake is generally ADA accessible — the slopes are all within ADA guidelines, but rain can make the terrain a little rough for some.
Tickets for the Richardson Farm Tulip Festival start at $16/person.
Richardson Christmas Tree Farm
One of the best Christmas tree farms in Illinois, Richardson Christmas Tree Farm opens the day after Thanksgiving.
Your Christmas tree experience includes a wagon ride out to the 75 acre tree farm (with 50,000 trees), tree wrapping, and free hot cocoa.
The Christmas tree farm has long been a tradition for families in and around Lake County, Illinois.
Tree prices begin at $49.
Friendly dogs on leashes are welcome to attend.
For more information on attractions and lodging in Lake County, Illinois, visit the Lake County, Illinois Visitors Bureau.