A stroll through a corn maze is a perfect way to spend a crisp fall afternoon, and cottage country has plenty of “fun-for-the-whole-family” options. Farms in Waterloo, Ingersoll, Thamesville, Belmont, and Norwich offer harvest- and Halloween-themed adventures worth checking out. But corn mazes have become more than just agricultural puzzles. They have evolved into elaborate works of art. These innovative designs from around the world will give you whole a new appreciation for the common corn maze.
Sever Peterson of Shakopee, Minnesota, has been hosting fall festivals for 18 years, with an elaborate corn maze at the center of the action. Every year Minnesotans line up to solve the maze and complete a challenge based around the theme. The 2014 train maze sends people on a quest to find Conductor Sever.
The largest corn maze on the East Coast belongs to the owners of Kettle Farms in Hoosick Falls, New York, who debut a new 22-acre design every year. They settle on a theme and turn to the professionals at Maze Play to realize their vision. In 2012 they presented a whimsical scene from the classic fairy tale Alice in Wonderland, featuring Alice and the Cheshire Cat.
Corn maze guru Brett Herbst has been creating maize masterpieces since 1996. Through his company, The MAiZE, he’s brought more than 2000 corn mazes to life. But his roots are still deep in Cornbelly Farm, his original location in Lehi, Utah, where he celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz with a large-scale corn tribute.
Wisconsin farmers Alan and Angie Treinen are a dynamite team with a reputation for consistently creating America’s most gorgeous corn mazes. Angie has the artistic vision and Alan personally cuts and tends every design. Their designs are always carefully planned, filled with strong mathematical elements and mythical themes. They’ve depicted the tale of Icarus, a kraken and Athena’s owl, but their 2012 take on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” is arguably their most stunning work.
To celebrate the release of the final Harry Potter film, British farmer and superfan, Top Pearsy, went all out. He created two matching portraits of the boy-who-lived, cutting through one million corn plants over 150 metres on his York farm. As one of the largest crop portraits ever unveiled, Pearsy’s maze was already impressive, but it was more than just a pretty picture. He designed each Harry Potter portrait with subtle differences so that admirers could try to catch the non-matching elements. With that added layer it officially became the world’s largest “spot the difference” puzzle.
Think corn mazes are old fashioned? Tell that to the Kraay family in Lacombe Alberta who used their cornfield to secure the Guinness World Record for the Largest QR (quick response) code. Their 15-acre design was not only cool, but completely functional as well. Anyone who scanned an aerial photo of the code (or who was lucky enough to get a real time aerial shot) was directed to the Kraay Farms website.
The farmers at Happy Day Farm in Manalapan, New Jersey are clearly proud of the famous folk who hail from their state. In 2012 they created a 10-acre corn maze titled “Jersey Grown” featuring the faces of Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Joe Pesci, and Frank Sinatra. Designers Tim and Olivia Stockel also created themed trivia questions that people could answer via text to receive extra clues. If maze-goers wanted to beat the trail in a hurry, they had to know their “Slippery When Wet” from their “Born to Run.”
Anyone can say “I love you” with flowers and fancy jewelry, but it takes a true romantic to declare his passion with produce! In 2013, Ohio farmer Paul Derthick surprised his wife of 50 years by carving a replication of their wedding photo into a 17-acre cornfield. He added the church they were married in, a farm tractor from their newlywed days and the words “Happy 50th” across the bottom. It’s definitely an anniversary gift that his wife—and all local aircraft pilots—will remember forever.
The Richardson Family in Spring Grove, Illinois, believe bigger is better when it comes to corn mazes. Every year they run multiple mazes through 33 acres of corn, adding popular attractions like bridges, slides, and zip-lines. But they never let the large scale of their designs compromise their quality. One look at their 2013 Beatles Tribute—featuring unbelievable detail on the faces of the fab four—is enough to convince anyone of their artistic aspirations. To achieve the “wow factor,” they brought in professional maze designer Shawn Stolworthy of Maze Play.