THE CORN MAZE
The corn maze (or maize maze) has become a huge attraction for the fall season. It seems like every organized group of young people here in the Midwest incorporate a trip to a maze as part of their Halloween celebrations. I've traveled through mazes with scout troops, church groups, school groups, to name a few, and enjoy the exercise, and I marvel at the inventiveness of people who create these mazes.
If you've never visited a corn maze, you might want to give one a try. It's a great way to get out and enjoy some fresh country air, and it's more of a workout than you might expect. In fact, take along a bottle of water because you might become disoriented, and the corn has a habit of blocking off air flow, so the heat can be a factor, even in October.
In case you aren't familiar with mazes, here are a few little factoids about them that you might find interesting.
Corn for a maze is often planted about 3 months later than corn crops intended solely for crop usage. This allows the corn to still be green when maze season comes around, which cuts down on the opportunity for people to 'cheat' as they traverse the paths. The crop is also usually planted at a higher population - in other words, the corn is planted up to twice the volume it normally would be in the field. This makes the stalks closer together, again discouraging 'cheating'.
To plan the maze, a GPS system is used to first record the coordinates of the four corners of the field, and later to walk the field during cutting the pattern in. Once the coordinates are determined, the pattern for the maze can be planned and adjusted to fit. Some of these patterns are quite intricate and are a joy to see from the air.
Once the corn is approximately 12 to 24 inches tall, the pattern is cut. This is often done with a riding mower. One person walks the pattern using a handheld GPS, while the mower follows along behind.
In many mazes, check points are set up along the way so that maze goers can mark their progress. Sometimes these are quite elaborate, consisting of small boxes covered in plexiglass with riddles or clues that the mazers must solve before moving on. Once the riddle is solved, instructions are given for moving on to the next stage. If you don't solve the riddle, you can wander around aimlessly for hours inside the maze.
I've been to some mazes where platforms were erected around the maze that allowed watches to look down over the maze to make sure everyone is safe and to help out if someone can't find the correct path.
Usually, after all clues are deciphered and the maze is complete, a reward or prize is given out at the end. This is always fun for the kids, but the real fun and satisfaction often comes from maneuvering through the maze without assistance from an adult.
A lot of the mazes in our area have additional attractions, as well. Some provide pumpkin cannons, hay rack rides, assorted crafts, and other good, clean fun, along with a variety of homemade snacks and goodies.
If you haven't experienced the fun of a fall maze, why not try it? My advice would be to hit it on a dry day when the mud factor is at a minimum. It's a great way to spend time with friends and family. Or leave the younger kids with a sitter and take the older ones for a moonlit maze experience. Those are a lot of fun, too.
Until next time,