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Lathrop’s Dell’Osso Farms: A Playland For All Ages
Del Osso pumpkins

Ron Dell’Osso had a farm


And on this farm he had a pumpkin blaster


With a pop, pop here

And a pop, pop there

Here a pop, there a pop

Everywhere a pop pop

Ron Dell’Osso has a farm



It was a mellow afternoon Friday at Ron Dell’Osso’s farm.

Kids were laughing as they tumbled in rolling pipe. Kids were giggling as they walked the plank. Kids were on gigantic swings, burning off energy furiously pedaling pedal cars, climbing over big tires, and hopping aboard a gigantic wooden truck.

Not a single kid had their nose buried in a smartphone walking around like a zombie — even the teens.

No need for video gaming to entertain them as they meandered through a massive corn maze, rode on the Dell’Osso Railroad, or zipped across a pond as they dangled from a cable. There were pigs, horses, and more. The big thing wasn’t the latest PlayStation game but finding “the” perfect Halloween pumpkin in the farm’s pumpkin patch.

And instead of holed up inside using a controller to take aim at a digital creation devised by a team of coders pumped up on Red Bull during an 18-hour workday, they were out in the fresh air basking in the sun while loading small pumpkin-like gourds into a bazooka-style pumpkin blaster and taking aim at dangling targets.

You got it. Kids of all ages were in the fresh air, socializing, walking around, laughing, and getting their share of real world thrills instead of relying on a virtual world for entertainment.

It’s all because back in 1996 Ron Dell’Osso and his wife Susan drove to a corn maze in Marin County and decided it would be fun to start one as a hobby at their farm fronting Interstate 5 sandwiched between Paradise Cut and the San Joaquin River.

Twenty-three years later that hobby is now luring over 160,000 people during October for family outings and date nights.

For those who know Ron, he’s really a big kid even at age 63. He’s the mastermind behind the pumpkin blasters and a host of other Tom Sawyer-style inventions you’ll find at Dell’Osso Farms.

Ron has farming blood running through his veins. Farmers have to always be looking ahead while being the best possible stewards of the land. If not they would not be able to have a livelihood for vey many years.

Ron Dell’Osso is a third generation farmer who learned the lifestyle and passion from his father Rudy whose father started farming Stewart Tract, which today is known by most as River Islands at Lathrop, in the 1920s.

When he’s not making artificial snow for tubing on Mt. Dell’Osso in December, planting corn for the region’s largest maze, or making sure enough live ammo in the form of mini-gourds are grown to keep the pumpkin blasters popping Dell’Osso is doing old-fashioned farming.

Actually, calling “old-fashioned farming” what Dell’Osso and his peers do today in the fields and orchards around Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon as well as up and down the San Joaquin Valley is misleading.

They employ cutting edge technology, working knowledge of global trade and money markets, stewardship of the land to keep it fertile for generations to come, and a miserly and as precise approach that they can on using water, fertilizer, and pesticides to keep costs down. That’s because their paycheck and surviving in the world requires them to have a higher yield per acre to counter commodity prices that tend to keep dropping.

They do it by using the same devices most of us use to post cat videos to the Internet or blog our outrage du jour, running software and controlling other devices that regulate everything from water flow and moisture to soil PH levels.

Now with Dell’Osso Farms closing in on three million visitors between the Pumpkin Maze and Holidays on the Farm they are now planting cherished memories for countless families who are discovering they can’t get enough of the fresh apple spice doughnuts that Ron and Susan whip up.

On a recent weekend, a line for the doughnuts snaked outside of the building. Many, after sampling the fresh doughnuts, were buying boxes of them to take home.

Cookies and pies are also baked on site while kettle corn is whipped up fresh near the entrance to the bakery providing the first delectable smell you encounter. The only thing not made on site is the fudge.

Kids can climb tire mountains, make their way through the largest corn maze in the 209, get their share of scary fun in the haunted caste, ride a train, enjoy a mystery tour, partake in lawn games, walk the plank for a big drop, frolic in the kids’ play zone, go down a Super Slide, participate in an interactive pirate show, watch pig races, race pedal cars, spin on pumpkins, take a hay ride, bounce on pillows and do a wide array of activities included in the general admission.

There are also several attractions not included in the general admission. They are zip lines ($10 to $15), gem mining ($6), pony rides ($7), pumpkin painting ($5), and pumpkin blasters ($6).

There is also a food court as well as seasonal gift items for sale.

The Pumpkin Maze is open daily through Thursday, Oct. 31. First entry is at 10 a.m. with the last entry at 8 p.m.

Rest assured that kids will go away from a day on the farm thinking Ron Dell’Osso is one “a-mazing” farmer.