Joe Fetzer has been in the farming business all his life. Lately, though, he’s been branching out.
Birchland Ocoee Farms, which has been owned by the Fetzer family for four generations, grows corn, soybeans, and other crops just like other conventional farms do.
But several years ago, Fetzer and his wife Dianne decided to grow their business in an unusual way. They opened The River Maze, which has blossomed into a farm-oriented tourist attraction along the banks of the Ocoee River in Polk County.
At The River Maze, visitors can use water balloon launchers to soak each other or play "corn toss," which is similar to the game of horseshoe. They can play games like "corn fusion" and "barnyard croquet" and go on hay rides and scavenger hunts. And of course there are mazes made of corn and soybean.
Fetzer said he got the idea after watching so many people enjoying ecotourism in and around the Ocoee River.
"We’re in a great area for tourism," Fetzer said. "It’s probably the number one industry in the county."
Fetzer hopes visits to The River Maze are educational experiences, particularly for city folk who don’t get a lot of exposure to farm life.
"We love for folks to get out and see how food is produced," Fetzer said.
The River Maze/Birchland Ocoee Farms is one of the businesses featured as Tennessee Business Spotlight celebrates "Harvest Month."
Tennessee Business Spotlight is a regular feature on the Secretary of State’s web site that recognizes some of the state’s businesses that create jobs, produce quality products, and make contributions to the communities in which they operate.
The other businesses featured in October are:
"Farms are an important part of Tennessee’s economy, but they are much more than that," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Without farms and the people who work on them, there would be no food to put on the table. I appreciate Tennessee’s farmers, including those highlighted in this month’s Tennessee Business Spotlight."
People who visit the Tennessee Business Spotlight web page can learn about the featured companies’ goods and services, operations, employment figures, photos and links to social media and web sites that can provide additional information. To visit Tennessee Business Spotlight, go to www.spotlight.tnsos.net.
To nominate a company to be featured in Tennessee Business Spotlight, please visit the web site and click on the "Submit a Business" link or call (615) 253-8800.