Corn Mazes Make Exciting Comeback Thanks to High Schoolers

It’s a nice, sunny October afternoon when Hollis resident Jeanne Smith and her grandchildren venture to a corn maze. She walks up to the booth to purchase the tickets. Next to her, the children are bouncing with excitement and cannot wait to run into the maze. After she pays for their tickets, they each take a different clue sheet and walk towards the entrance of the enormous corn field. It never crosses her mind how much work really goes into creating that short period of fun, but they are thankful for the fun of this yearly tradition.
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ccording to Rutgers University, the average corn maze costs about $25,825, and makes about $54,000, resulting in around $28,000 in profit.  This accounts for the seeds, design plans, advertising, staff sweatshirts, tickets, maze signs, bathrooms, insurance, and staff pay.

“I have been to the Pumpkin Valley corn maze with my grandsons several times. It has become a tradition. We each take a different question sheet to help us decide which way to go but take turns making the final decision. There is always one number that it seems like it takes us forever to find. It is lots of fun,” said Smith.

According to Corn Mazes America, most mazes range from four to 20 acres. Each maze has a few miles of paths to get lost in, however, most people only walk about one-third of those paths.

Confused guests use the bridge to figure out which way to go

Dayton resident Angela Harris owns the Pumpkin Valley Farm corn maze which is about six acres. They have been operating a corn maze since 2002. Harris says that the ground is prepared the same way as all of their other crops. They plow, harrow, fertilize, and plant their corn. Then they submit their design idea to a company in Utah. The Maize Company draws out the design, making sure the maze has the appropriate amount of turns and dead ends. When the corn is about four inches tall, they receive the plans and cut the corn. 

Senior Carl Pellerin worked at the maze his freshman and sophomore year. “They start growing the corn the beginning of April and it takes roughly a month maybe a month and a half to grow high enough to start making the paths in it.”

This year the maze is inspired by Tom Brady and his five super bowl rings. Previous years have seen designs such as a moose, eagle, cow, spider webs, and firetrucks. In 2014, there was even a North Woods Law themed maze for those who love watching the tv series. These are all such different themes, how do they decide each year?

“Our family typically decides the design every year. Often we take turns to be fair,” Harris explains.

Senior Hunter Bowdoin-Leach went to the corn maze with a group of eight other students. “We did girls against boys. And at the time I had just gone through my surgery, and I shouldn’t have been running, but we ran through that corn maze. Like, I mean sprinting. We were in the lead, and then we finished, and the girls were there before us. We have no clue how it happened, but what we realized is that they lied, and they cut through the corn maze to beat us. So by the time we got out they were sitting at the picnic table chewing on some caramel corn. And then they were like, “man, you guys should be faster” and we were like, “we listened.” We got it out of them that they cheated so we felt good about ourselves.”

There is something for everyone at the maze, including animals, a playground, and even a corn cannon.

“I went on the big slide there. It was pretty cool. I was wearing some sweatpants that day so I went flying. I was covered in hay, I was covered in wood chips. I was not able to go on the bubble because of my knee, but everyone else did and they said it was pretty fun,” said Bowdoin-Leach.

This year’s maze fee is $9.00 and $7.50 for seniors over 65 years of age. The price is all-inclusive. The food and pumpkins, however, are paid for separately.

45 minutes after they enter, the woman and her grandchildren make their way out of the corn. Everyone is exhausted, but smiling and laughing. This, the woman decides, is why she wanted to come. To spend time with her grandchildren and make them happy.

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