July 24 truly was a grand opening for Ouimet Farms Adventures, as the site welcomed more than 300 visitors on a beautiful Saturday.
Located on a century-old family farm in the heart of Vankleek Hill, Ouimet Farms attracted visitors from Montreal, Ottawa and all places in between. Kids of all ages could be seen winding their way through the huge corn maze and enjoying the various attractions on the site.
“People just love coming – we have grandparents, parents, couple, little kids, big kids – everybody seems to enjoy themselves,” said Julia Fortin-Schwartzenhauer, who operates Ouimet Farms with partner and property-owner André Ouimet. “Everyone leaves with a smile.”
Greeting visitors at the gate while speaking with The Review, Fortin-Schwartzenhauer regularly switched between French and English as she welcomed guests to the site. The farm’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ouimetfarms/ and webpage https://ouimetfarms.com/ each offer information in both official languages. All staff members are also fully bilingual, which is something greatly appreciated by Francophone visitors.
“They’re excited to come to Ontario and they’re shocked that we speak French here,” Fortin-Schwartzenhauer laughed.
Ouimet Farms is also targeting Franco-Ontarian visitors, something which is important to the family.
“We want to show the heritage of Franco-Ontarians,” Fortin-Schwartzenhauer explained. “ André’s family has been here for over 100 years on this property and they’re proud of their French heritage.”
With hundreds of visitors each weekend, Ouimet Farms Adventure also provides a boost for local businesses. Many of the out-of-town guests make their visit a day trip – stopping in at local shops and restaurants in Vankleek Hill and the surrounding area and posting about their adventures on social media platforms.
Ouimet Farms Adventure is now in it’s ninth year of operation, beginning as a small corn maze and adding new features each year. The current seven-acre corn maze, whose trails are carved into the shape of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, remains the most popular attraction. The massive painted pop silo, which was added four years ago, is a popular spot for photos.
The site includes a rock-climbing wall, pedal-car racetrack, a giant jumping pillow and duck races. There are also large grounds with picnic tables to allow visitors to relax, have a meal and enjoy the view.
Everything on the site is family friendly. The giant corn maze, with a total of five kilometres of trails, is a challenge, but is as safe as exploring one’s own backyard. The maze is marked with different colors of tape to guide people through it.
“If they need to exit, they can just (follow) the yellow (tape) and that leads to an exit,” Fortin-Schwartzenhauer explained.