GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery will have a special maze this year to honor the late Jim and Bethel Robinette, who passed away in May and June, respectively.
The 6.5 acre corn maze will feature the 1929 Model A car with the farm’s signature big apple inside the truck bed.
The maze at Robinettes, located at 3142 4 Mile Rd. NE, will officially open Tuesday, Sept. 1. The family asks that people social distance as they go through as a family or small group, but masks are not required.
The fee to enter the maze is $8 per person. Children up to age 2 are admitted for free and it is $7 each for groups of 15 or more with one person paying.
While the family typically begins planning the maze in January, the plan quickly changed after the couple passed, said Alicia Robinette, manager and fourth generation in the family to run the farm.
Known and loved by many, Barzilla and Minnie Robinette bought the farm in 1911. Since then it has only grown with the family, which welcomed the first member of the sixth generation in August.
Jim Robinette, born in 1927, was married to his wife Bethel for 58 years. The couple was the third generation to operate the family farm after turning it into a public wholesale market in the early 1970s.
“A lot of the changes that we’ve gone through are due to them being brave and taking the risk,” said Alicia Robinette, the couple’s daughter-in-law.
Jim Robinette, who worked at the farm until he was 91, was named “Apple Man of the Year” by the Michigan Pomesters in March 2013. His wife used her teaching degree to lead school tours at the farm over the years.
Bethel Robinette continued to work well into her 70s, said Alicia Robinette. She also participated in the Farm Women’s Symposium and served as president of the Michigan State Horticultural Society Women’s Auxillary.
Outside of their duties at the farm, the couple was heavily involved in their church, gardening, baking and spending quality time with family. Alicia Robinette said she had a special bond with the couple, recalling the family recipes her mother-in-law often shared with her and Jim Robinette’s role in her life.
“Even though he was my father-in-law, (Jim) was more like a father to me,” said Alicia Robinette, who was 17 when her own father passed away.
Robinette said the family was happy to have changed the maze design in time for the corn to be cut for the “nice tribute.”
She said the design not only honors their lives, but also recognizes how the couple made Robinette’s what it is today.
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