The hay maze may stay in Half Moon Bay. For now.
That is the order of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors regarding whether the full schedule of annual autumnal events such as a hay maze, haunted barn, bounce house, pony and train rides, petting zoo, swordfighting competitions and prepackaged food sales can continue at the this season.
Even , the giant steel gorilla in the field, is allowed to stay on the loose.
But farm operator Chris Gunelakis and co-owner Gary Arata may not be so lucky in the future.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project, but indicated this may be the last time they are willing to do so.
Gunelakis has been dedicating the farmland to family-oriented fun for over a decade now, as the event has consistently grown in size and scope.
"We love putting the smiles on little kids' faces," said Gunelakis.
Located on Verde Road at the southern end of Half Moon Bay, Arata's is one of a handful in San Mateo County that offers similar activities and events, such and located on Highway 92/San Mateo Road on the other side of the Half Moon Bay area.
"We just want to have the same opportunities that other farms have," said Gunelakis.
But not all parties with a stake in Arata's are interested in continuing the cornucopia of fall attractions available to the public.
Arata's aunt Lillian, who owns 50 percent of the property, filed an appeal with the county this year attempting to halt on-site entertainment on the farm.
Lillian Arata said that it is her wish to return to using the land for pumpkin farm, rather than what she referred to as "an amusement park."
But her efforts were overruled, as the board granted Gunelakis and Gary Arata the permits necessary for the show to go on this year.
Still though, there was an indication that the board would keep a keen eye on regulating the world of "agri-tourism" and "agri-tainment," or similar events featuring farm land being used for entertainment purposes, in the future.
"I think this needs to be scaled back. Whether it be now or next year," said Supervisor Dave Pine.
Supervisor Adrienne Tissier agreed, but said it may be too late in the game to cancel the event this year, as it generally kicks off when families begin to visit the farm to pick their own pumpkin.
She also cited the potential loss of jobs that could result by halting the event as reasoning why it should be allowed this year.
Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson suggested the board hold off making a ruling on the future of the event until an upcoming civil court case between the Aratas settles the issue of ownership and control of the land.
The Aratas are scheduled to meet in court in January to decide who owns and controls the land.
But Supervisor Carole Groom echoed Tissier's concerns that it is likely too late call the event off this year.
"I am worried about the pumpkin farm not having a fall season," she said.
Jacobs Gibson eventually concurred and gave her support, albeit reluctantly, she said.
Groom suggested that the county staff and Board of Supervisors meet after January 1, 2012, the date when the permits for the fair at the pumpkin farm expire, and reassess what the future of similar events on farm land should be.
Pine said he would not be in favor of granting such permission in the future.
"I won't do this again," he said.
Supervisor Don Horsley said he agreed, and that he wanted to ensure all the event structures would be removed from prime soil, so as to ensure that it would not interfere with the land being farmed.
And Tissier re-iterated the need to address the regulations on hosting such events on farm land in the future.
"We need to look more closely on some guidelines regarding agri-tourism or agri-tainment," she said.