ROBSTOWN - When the Klepac family began farming in 1981, the idea was to grow crops, but now they have also grown a place that south Texas families can come to enjoy the outdoors and time with each other. The Klepacs, consisting of Jeff, Traci, Brandon, Rachelle, Wade and Kourtni, have operated the Rockin’ K Maze for three years and in that time, they have created a family-oriented place that is unique to Nueces County.
“We have loved watching people come and have fun. It is neat to bring something totally different to our area,” said Kourtni Klepac.
The maze had always been a dream of Klepac’s mother-in-law, Traci. She had always brought up the idea, but her husband, Jeff, and her sons, Brandon and Wade had found the idea of all that work a little less than favorable. But things changed when her daughter-in-laws came around. Klepac and her sister-in-law, Rochelle, thought that the idea of a maze would be a great way to combine fun and the family’s background in agriculture. The family discussed the finer points of operation and the maze was opened in September of 2014. The original plan was to be open for 10 weeks, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Even though they were only able to be open for five of the ten weeks in their first year, the Rockin’ K Maze had been a big hit.
Preparation for the year’s maze starts well before opening day in the fall. The field, located at the corner of CR 52 and FM 666, in between Bluntzer and Banquette, is planted with hay grazer seed in mid-July.
“Brandon does the majority of the planting, but we all go out to watch,” said Klepac, a mother of two. “We bring our kids out and take pictures, it is a family event for us.”
When the grazer reaches a foot tall, it is marked off to show the cutter where to go. Once the marking is completed, the design, which changes every year, is cut into the crop. In order to get just the right design (last year’s was an homage to hometown favorite, Whataburger), the Klepacs use a company called The Maze Organization, based in Utah. Once the family decides on an idea for the design, they submit it and it is sent back to them in a proprietary format that allows them to then etch it into the hay grazer. Grazer is used instead of the traditional corn because it is better able to withstand the heat and the overabundance of wild hogs found in south Texas. This year’s maze design will be announced toward the end of summer and is usually found on the company’s Facebook page or website, www.rockinkmaze.com.
Despite the name of the venue, Rockin’ K Maze has much more to offer than the maze alone. Visitors will also find a playground, carnival games, cow train and much more. The train has been a favorite of the smaller visitors to the maze and this year, the train will be expanded to hold more passengers as it journeys around the perimeter of the maze. Also new this year will be corn hole toss, pumpkin tic-tac-toe and pumpkin checkers. During operational times, the maze employs about 30 people, including those who come out to help supervise and educate students taking field trips. The games and rides are all built locally and supplied by different vendors. Also on the horizon for Rockin’ K is the construction of a new barn, which will house an expanded cooking area.
Those who come to enjoy the maze can also grab a bite to eat and listen to Rockin’ K Radio, a radio station operating only at the maze. The songs are hand-picked by the Klepacs and usually the playlist sticks to Christian contemporary, oldies and country music.
“Having music at the maze has made a world of difference. We had music the first year and then the next year we didn’t. It was obvious to us that we needed the station out there, “said Klepac.
The maze has been a labor of love from the beginning and has challenged the Klepac family to learn on the fly.
“We had to figure out all the kinks and it’s hard just making all the decisions and finalizing everything, but we did our best and listened to our customers to ensure that we were meeting their needs, as well as our own,” said Klepac.
Those who have visited the maze appreciate the chance to take their families on an adventure in the great outdoors.
“I have so enjoyed bringing my girls out to Rockin’ K Maze,” said Aubrey Brown. “We have been going every year since it opened and have enjoyed seeing what new things each year brings.”
Once the middle of November hits, however, it will be time to put away all the parts of the maze until the next year. Teams of employees will tear down and store all the game booths and equipment and a farmer will come and cut down the hay grazer used for the maze. The grazer will be baled and used to feed cattle through the winter months.
When the Klepacs opened the maze, they envisioned a place for people to come and play with and learn about the area’s rich agricultural resources. And while it is hard work to plan, execute and oversee the maze from July through November, the Klepacs are happy with the venue they have provided.
“Our vision was to provide clean, family fun for the surrounding areas and I feel like we have definitely achieved our goal,” said Klepac. “Farming is our livelihood and pays our bills and I enjoy sharing what we have learned about it with the visitors to the maze.”
Rockin’ K Maze will open September 30 and remain open through November 12. It will be open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sundays. Visitors can purchase tickets online or at the maze entrance.