For all the work farmers and ag professionals do to keep the public connected to farmland and our food supply, it sometimes feels like 10 months of the year can’t compare to the early fall and corn maze season. Nothing brings so many people to our farms than these agritourism operations, helping people to have a good time while also giving them and up-close look at what farms produce and the livestock that may be on them.
I know, I know, it definitely can feel a little “farm lite” at times, but imagine how the visitors feel getting to walk among the animals, pick their own pumpkin, or experience what hay and corn kernels feel like. It’s thrilling! And, especially for kids, these kinds of events give them very positive memories of being around food production.
For 2023, the weekend of Sept. 16 and 17 really begins this season of harvest festivals and the opening of corn mazes. In fact, a lot of them are getting rolling on Friday the 15th, so that kids getting out of school can have somewhere fun to kick off their weekend. Of course, most farms that have mazes also include food trucks, games, rides, and other activities.
Corn mazes began to be built in the United States in the early 1990s, and today — thanks in no small part to GPS-driven precision farming and some creative mapping by producers — there are more than 500 such mazes across the country.
Last year, Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon, California, created a 42-acre maze that earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Record as the planet’s biggest corn maze. (Cool Patch’s maze won’t open this year until Sept. 23.)
Another massive maze is at Stoney Brook Farms in Minnesota, which has 35 acres and 11.7 miles of pathways and opens Saturday as part of the farm’s Harvest Fun Days.
It’s exciting to see the many creative designs that farmers come up with — from animals and sports figures to historical events and pop culture tributes. After all, the planning for these farms began back in the spring during planting season.
For 2023, here are just a few that have released their designs and gearing up with festivals — and will ready to accept guests very very soon!