This past Saturday, we got lost. On purpose. We took a trip to Lancaster County, in south central Pennsylvania, to visit a corn maze.
The basic idea is simple enough. Every year, the owners design a maze illustrating a different theme – in previous years, the mazes have been illustrations of a train, the map of Pennsylvania, an Amish buggy, the Liberty Bell, a biplane, and many other topics. (This year’s theme is baseball.) Then the maze is cut into a five-acre field of corn, and visitors are turned loose to try to find their way out again.
To give you some idea of where you are, the maze is color-coded. Plastic tape is tied along the edges of the pathways (this is also to discourage frustrated visitors from trampling through the corn). Different colors of tape are used for different parts of the design – this is the boundary between the “ballfield”, in green, and the “batter’s helmet”, in red.
This year, for the first time, there was a graded system of hints. If you wanted to settle for walking around the outer edge and leaving by the entrance, you could follow the yellow markers – I think they’re supposed to resemble ears of corn. Then there were orange signs (I forgot to take a picture of one), with hints on the back.
And for diehards, they posted “encouraging” red signs. We almost followed the advice on this one, until we took a second look and realized you can’t help doing what it says – it points you in both directions at once.
The maze is a “working” cornfield – it will stay open as a maze until Halloween, when the cornstalks will be suitably dry and rattly and spooky, and then the corn will be harvested in early November. Meanwhile, visitors are asked to leave ears of corn – like these in the photo – alone.
There are stands selling food – hamburgers, hot dogs, ears of corn, and the like – and a number of other things to do, like a miniature maze for very young children made of bales of straw that come up about to their waists. And there are cute animals –
It took us hours to escape (this year’s maze was unusually tricky – some years we’ve found our way out in only 45 minutes). And we’ll do it again next summer.