I guess it’s a midwest sort of thing, because when I talk to my friends and family on the coasts or in other countries, they’re completely baffled by this idea of a corn maze. “No, imagine a corn field where they’ve used a tractor to make a maze. Then you have to figure your way through.” “But why? Why would you do that?” “Because it’s really fun.” “Yeah, um, okay. I’m off to the Met and an evening at the Opera, you have fun with your corn fields…”
And we did have fun, actually. Here’s some proof:
The genesis of all this Autumn fun was undoubtedly the pumpkin patch. You know, where Linus would wait for the Great Pumpkin each Halloween. If you can get people to come to your field to pick a pumpkin, why not add additional attractions and activities? And, heck, why not make a day out of it and have lots of things to do and a basic entrance fee? And that’s what a lot of the savvy farms are doing now, with Anderson Farms in Erie, Colorado one of the biggest.
Last year I helped organize a class outing to Anderson Farms just before Halloween and it was crazy busy. Standing in line for an hour busy, actually, not so much fun. This year we went a bit earlier (way smarter! and walked right up to the ticket booth to pick up our admission tickets. It was me, a friend, my 14yo son, his buddy, my 10yo daughter and her pal. Six of us. And we had a really great few hours with the various activities.
The corn maze was really fun and it’s one darn big corn maze! It’s 30 acres with over eight miles of paths to wander, trying to figure out where the heck you are and how to get to a specific spot, or how to get out. According to the local paper, “The maze is 30 acres, with eight miles of trail. The Anderson family conceived the concept, then hired a company in Idaho to design the maze. The family cut the maze in June when the corn was short, using GPS on a tractor. Then they went back in the middle of September with a tractor and tiller to flatten the paths and kill the weeds.”
One of the highlights was the pumpkin slingshot, as you can see in the photo below.
I should highlight that the way Anderson Farms has the corn maze organized there are “punch stations” located throughout the maze. Each person has a punchcard that has a map of the maze (of minimal value since you’re never really sure where the heck you are) and space for all the punches. So it’s not “get in, get out” but rather quite a challenging quest on a massive maze.
We found the first 8 stations (well, we never found station #6, but we found the other seven) and that took us about 90min in the sun. Not sure how many people find all 16 stations, but it’s quite an accomplishment if you do!
Here’s what a punch station looks like:
Here’s the secret: Each punch has a different shape, so you can’t just get to station #1 and punch all the spots on your maze card. Apparently we’re not the first people to think of this shortcut! 🙂
And on a warm autumn afternoon, that corn maze feels like it goes on, well, forever…
Even with dozens of people or more in the maze, it’s surprising that you can wander for a while without seeing anyone else. And then there were the two dads with the jog stroller running through the maze, on a quest to get all the punches in the least amount of time possible. We followed them for a little bit but then they outpaced us. 🙂
Mostly, though, people wander while staring at their maze map, laughing and trying to figure out where the heck they were. It’s not a high stress activity and, surprising for Colorado, there were no people with numbers pinned to their chests, trying to break the maze record while carrying a 100lb backpack. Maybe next year.
We had a quite decent lunch of hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches, which fueled us for the maze, then afterwards we tried some of the other activities, including a little rally race area with these really cool four-wheeled bikes.
Here the boys are vying for first place:
The kids all had a great time with the bikes, to the point where I kinda wonder if we can buy some. Not really. We already have plenty enough stuff…
We also did the pumpkin slingshot — an additional $1/person, well worth it! — and took a few minutes to admire the pumpkin carver making a far more ambitious pumpkin than anything I’ve ever tackled:
There are also two big events that Anderson Farm hosts when it gets dark, the Zombie Paintball Hunt and Terror in the Corn. My kids have talked for years about the latter, but so far have never gone. I don’t know that I want to deal with them not sleeping for a few weeks afterwards, quite frankly, as I hear that it is quite frightening.
Even the sign’s more than a bit anxiety-provoking:
I already am hearing buzz about a group of high school kids heading out for this, so perhaps this is the year they’ll go. Uh oh.
Finally, the kids really did have a great time in their own ways at Anderson Farms. The boys vanished and found a whopping ONE station in the maze, while my friend and I stuck with the younger girls and we found seven of ’em.
The four of them were even able to socialize together with surprisingly little conflict:
Before I moved out here to Colorado, I really had very little idea about these whole pumpkin patch/corn maze places, but now I’m hooked. It really is pretty darn fun, super great for kids, and a chance to get some terrific photos of your children with those beautiful fall colors. I say, check it out if you have one near you!