TODAY   |  October 19, 2013

The big business of corn mazes

Tens of thousands of people are flocking to rural family farms this season for an adventure some compare to finding a needle in a haystack. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is fall. or autumn as you prefer.

>> yes.

>> very fancy over there. which is a great time for families across the country to be outside and doing all of those fall things like going apple picking and heading to the pumpkin patch and everything else.

>> you love fall.

>> it's my favorite season.

>> i know. i can tell. your eyes light up when you talk about it. as we report, it's really helping their bottom lines.

>> reporter: mornings are deceivingly quiet on this iowa farm. a little more than a combine working the field. fast forward a few hours and this stretch of corn country forms into an unlikely tourist attraction .

>> a great way to go out and see the countryside and get out for a little while.

>> reporter: this is how farmers across the country are supplementing the harvest. 1,200 sglzip line is just the start. at this farm a bouncy floor for kids and all kinds of swings and things to climb on. and if you think this is just another corn field, take another look. one of the biggest attractions is right here. it's called the corn maze . it's essentially a walkable puzzle. and it's a lot harder than it looks. with elaborate computer-generated design the maze stretches a dozen acres.

>> it tests your wits a little bit.

>> reporter: and can hold you hostage for hours.

>> thankful my husband comes along and he has a great sense of direction.

>> reporter: on some fall weekend, attendance tops 3,000 at about $10 a hid.

>> 36 dollars, please.

>> reporter: like the $20 zip line and the perfect pumpkin. this is a working corn and soy bean farm.

>> are you having fun ?

>> reporter: but entertainment is now 30% of profits.

>> corn is up, down. soybeans, a drought this year. this keeps it stead for us. keeps a stead income because it's grown that much.

>> groo crop this year.

>> reporter: david peterson , a fifth generation farmer is the first in his family to charge admission. you've come around?

>> oh, yeah. it took a little while. took a couple of years but i really enjoy it.

>> reporter: it's almost like a county fair . pig races and petting zoos.

>> i like the animals in the big open space to play.

>> reporter: as the sun goes down, a new crowd arrived for fright night as the family farm turns to a haunted house for extra cash. janet shamlian , nbc news, in iowa.

>> it's fun to do those things.

>> as a city girl this looks so much fun like seeing a pig.

>> you've never seen a pig?

>> never.

>> your daughter is at the perfect age. i sense a field trip in your future.

>> petting zoo .

>> nothing says fall like a good old-fashioned state fair .

>> and a tried twinkie?

>> fried anything for that matter.

>> fried butter you can get that now. maybe not.

>> you can get a lot of that stuff. you take the kids apple picking ?

>> but this is the first year we haven't made it but fall is not over yet and still time .

>> nor is autumn. it is not over yet.

>> nor is autumn.

>> we will be right back. first, this is "today" on nbc.

>>> welcome back. welcome back. that's