Regional News August 5, 2011
By Louise Liebenberg Special to Peace Country Sun
Denise and Lyndon Drefs stand in the field specially seeded for the corn maze.
Some people call it agri-tourism others call it farm diversification,.However you want to call it, is fine by Denise and Lyndon Drefs from the ECBAr Ranch in High Prairie.
Their farming enterprise consists of some grain farming, some cattle ranching; custom farming (baling, cutting, seeding, harrowing) and they also run the Flaman rentals in High Prairie.
However, this was not enough as they have diversified into tourism related activities. They have been offering group trail rides for three years now, a year ago added wagon rides to their business venture and last winter opened their perfect toboggan hill to guests.
To keep their business exciting and innovative a new activity this year will be a corn maze.
After a fairly adventurous trail ride in Mexico, Denise and Lyndon came home with the idea to start with guided trail rides on their scenic ranch. They already had a number of quiet horses and it seemed like a logical next step.
They increased their number of solid, well-broke horses, got all the insurance rules and paperwork sorted out and started into the agri- tourism business. They offer trail rides for one, two or four hours.
The four -hour ride comes with a wiener roast at the end. They can take about eight to 10 people on a ride at a time. This size makes the group manageable, more fun and more one on one interaction.
All the rides get some basic instruction first in the arena, smaller children or fearful people can be taken by a guide on a lead line. All rides are done at a walk on well-broke, solid trail horses.
Birthday parties where children can have pony rides in the arena were added to the trail riding side of the business.
After more and more requests for wagon rides, Denise and Lyndon expanded their business to included wagon rides. They can accommodate about 18 children on their wagon or 12-14 adults. The wagon rides will, weather permitting; will be running to the end of October.
When the weather shuts down the wagon rides it will be the start of the winter tobogganing season. The renting of the toboggan hill by groups and families comes with a heated tent, party lighting, fire rings and of course a potty.
Eighteen acres of corn has been seeded, the maze has been designed and marked out in the knee-high corn. It is expected the the maze pattern will be cut into the corn all in preparation for the opening of the maze to the public at the beginning of August.
The Drefs have also decided to share the corn maze with various clubs and charitable organizations on a share base. The clubs can open the maze for a weekend, do advertising, run a concession stand and look after the gate and parking to fundraise for their organization.
The Drefs family will offer wagon rides and trail rides to provide families and groups with a fun-filled activity day out on their ranch. The ranch offers some wonderful scenery as it borders the East Prairie River, a perfect place for a picnic after wandering around the maze for hours! Once the weather is too bad the maze becomes feed for the cows, a true agri tourism dual- purpose venture!
The diversifications are primarily family run; on the trail rides daughters Samantha and Erin and son Jason help with the guiding, saddling up and preparing the guests for their trail ride. They whole family is involved with these ventures. They assist with wagon rides, they wipe the tears from the children that fall off their sleds on the toboggan hill and help with all the custom farming.
The enthusiasm and excitement that both Lyndon and Denise have with this tourism venture of their business is infectious. They see more and more opportunities as tourism in the Peace Country increases and are constantly looking for new activities that would fit into their daily farming life.
To find out more about how to book one of the activities offered by the ECBar Ranch you can take a look at their website: www.ecbarranch.ca or you can just phone 1-780-523-0242.