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Fall is coming. Will Utah traditions like Cornbelly’s still happen?

To carry on during the pandemic, favorite fall venues like Cornbelly’s and WitchFest are prepared to adjust. Here’s a look at what’s being done to prevent further spread of COVID-19

SHARE Fall is coming. Will Utah traditions like Cornbelly’s still happen?

Cornbelly’s in Lehi plans to open Sept. 25-Oct. 31, incorporating social distancing and extra cleaning practices.

Kamille Combs, Cornbelly’s

SALT LAKE CITY — Major fall events in Utah are going to look a bit different this year.

To carry on during the pandemic, favorite fall venues like Cornbelly’s and WitchFest are prepared to adjust traditional activities and take precautions. Here’s a look at what’s being done to prevent further spread of COVID-19.


In Lehi, Cornbelly’s corn maze and fall festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. With social distancing and extra cleaning practices in place, the festival plans to open and celebrate that milestone from Sept. 25-Oct. 31, according to marketing and events director Kamille Combs.

“Like all other businesses, we are watching the state guidelines closely as far as what is allowed and what is required,” Combs told the Deseret News. “Safety’s always our top priority at Cornbelly’s, so we’ll be implementing whatever new changes we need to, to make sure that it’s a safe environment.”

The venue will finalize its plans for the season in early September. But it appears Cornbelly’s will at least need to encourage guests to wear masks, Combs said. And for some attractions where distancing isn’t as easy, like the hayride, people may be required to wear masks.

“Certainly we’ll have signage and 6-foot markers, so that when people are waiting in line to get into Cornbelly’s or for some of our more popular attractions, they can still distance themselves as well as possible,” Combs said.

The venue might eliminate some attractions or events that lead to large groups of people congregating, like parades or some of the shows, Combs said. To limit capacity, Cornbelly’s may also sell tickets for a specific day and time, rather than having the tickets be valid for any day of the season.

For slower-moving attractions like the Bungee Bouncer that tend to develop long lines, Combs said the venue may implement virtual lines, allowing people to receive a text message when it’s their turn.

Cornbelly’s is working its 25th anniversary into the corn maze design, and is doing a series of 25 giveaways on social media. To celebrate the big year, Combs said the venue is considering offering free admission to people who are 25, and to couples who are celebrating their 25th anniversary.

“We want to make it a fun celebration for everybody,” she said. “Cornbelly’s might look a little different in some ways this fall potentially, but our goal is to operate in whatever way we can and still allow families to come out and enjoy that tradition that they’ve had over the years.”


Gardner Village had big plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary and its annual WitchFest’s 20th anniversary this year. But the pandemic put a dent in those plans.

“We’re still celebrating 40 years of business this year and we’re still planning on remaining strong and viable ... but it has definitely been a big hurdle and a bump in the road as a small business,” said marketing director Marcia Johns. “Great big monumental things for Gardner Village for 2020, yet it’s had to look a little different.”

With distancing, masks and other precautions in place, Johns said the West Jordan venue is still planning to hold its fall tradition, WitchFest.

“Typically we start selling tickets for it Aug. 1, but we’re going to start selling them Sept. 1 instead because we’re going to continue to watch what happens to make sure there aren’t any additional mandates that happen that would affect it,” Johns told the Deseret News.

As of now, the festival will still have regular activities like the witch displays, Witches Night Out and scavenger hunt. But this time around, Witches Night Out won’t have an annual parade and entertainment stations, and the scavenger hunt format will involve less touching, Johns said.

“You can easily socially distance ... because we’re an outdoor venue,” she added. “And our scavenger hunt has been a popular free activity ... that you can do Monday through Saturday. (We’ll) try to not have as many hands-on things.”

Food will no longer be served buffet-style for the Witchapalooza Dinner Theater and Breakfast with a Witch events. The festival will space the tables differently and seat fewer people, and witch entertainers and guests will also be asked to wear masks until they eat.

Johns said the festival will also make adjustments to events like Wee Witches Weekend, and the Witch 5K and 10K Run.

The venue will make hand sanitizer available at registers, and extra cleaning practices — especially sanitizing restaurant tables throughout the day — will be enforced.

“But really at the end of the day, it comes down to the person ... who decides to go out,” Johns said. “It’s wonderful to see the public back out and trying to support those small businesses like Gardner Village, but we ask that people do it responsibly because we’re trying to be responsible as well.”

Early on in the pandemic, Gardner Village closed for six weeks. But retail sales have been fairly strong since the venue reopened in May, according to Johns.

“The hardest hit of our business is the event venues we have and the restaurants because the restaurant can only seat at about 40% capacity,” Johns said. “For the restaurant and the event venues, it’s been extremely difficult and we’ve lost a lot of money.”

Johns added that local businesses are “the heartbeat of the community,” and thanked people for remembering small businesses like Gardner Village during a troubling time like the pandemic.

“One of the things that we hear about Gardner Village over and over and over is how people like how they feel when they go there, that it feels like an escape from the ordinary,” she said. “We continue to plan on doing that for people.”