A family walks down a lane cut into a sprawling field of corn, striding confidently until they reach a fork. After a debate, they turn left, and eventually left again. A wooden bridge leapfrogs them to a new path, lined with rows of eerily similar corn stalks. Luckily, it's a balmy day, the blue sky striated with wispy clouds, and they're not in a hurry to emerge from the green ocean of corn.
From an observation deck nearby, the 28-acre cornfield looks like a postage stamp inside the 450-acre farm, which grows soybeans, corn, and more than 50,000 Christmas trees. Homesteaded in 1840, the land is now owned and worked by a third generation of Richardsons. The family wanted to welcome visitors to the farm to enjoy the rural, outdoorsy fun that could only fit on such a sprawling space. They planted the corn maze?among the world's largest?and devised other attractions such as a zipline and paintball gallery. Visitors can also cheer on racing pigs, pet animals in an interactive zoo, and participate in different maze games. In autumn families come to pick pumpkins and in winter they cut their own Christmas trees.
The sudden roar of gunfire rolls over Richmond Hunting Club's facilities, which sprawl across 850 untamed acres. The club's location nearly adjacent to Chain O' Lakes State Park draws sportspeople of all levels who can spend time shooting skeet, boarding a loyal hunting dog at the onsite kennel, paintballing, or stocking up on ammo at the pro shop. Outdoorsy folks who frequent the club often tie up their mountain goat outside and congregate inside the Bar & Grill, refueling weary trigger fingers with buffalo burgers and pheasant pot pies in a classic hunting-lodge setting.
Located less than 90 minutes from Chicago amidst Illinois's largest concentration of natural lakes, the Chain O' Lakes State Park Riding Stable sits on a 2,793-acre park neighbored by a 3,230-acre conservation area. There, horseback trail rides explore undulating hills and thick forest populated by deer, eagles, and the much-sought-after Keebler elf. Horse-drawn wagon rides?led by seasoned drivers along wooded trails?furnish especially colorful views in autumn, and the stable staff can curate optional cookouts at wooded picnic sites.
Rockstock IV, sponsored by Rock 108 FM, merges with the 2011 Carnival of Madness to showcase 11 hard-hitting rock bands, punching ears and lifting spirits in a long night of rousing performances sprawled across two stages. Headlining the festivities, platinum-selling Vancouver quartet Theory of A Deadman exhorts raucous anthems such as "Bad Girlfriend" and "Hate My Life," whose wrathful riffage, tongue-through-cheek humor, and cathartic lyrics keep Eeyore from pouting himself to death. Filling the carnival’s roster of head-banging roustabouts, Alter Bridge shreds blocks of euphonic metal over moats of chugging guitars and petulant double-bass kick pedals, and Black Stone Cherry narrates southern Gothic stories with guitars forged from Tom Petty’s femur. Concluding the cluster of combustible rock 'n' roll, Adelitas Way scores unflinching tales of perseverance with hardcore and classic influences, and Emphatic unleashes chugging sonnets. Keeping both stages of Rockstock IV equipped with jackhammer melodies, a sextet of head-bangers, including Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Bobaflex, also appears to bludgeon the remaining sunlight out of the day.
Held at rugged landscapes throughout the country, HARD CHARGE's races drench participants in mud, water, and sweat as they test their own strength, agility, and stamina against a series of tough obstacles. From the kickoff of the first heat, individuals and co-ed teams launch off to storm 30 challenges, which include crossing swift streams with no bridge but a single rope, navigating forests of hanging tires, scaling towers of hay bales and sand, and clambering over vertical cargo nets.
Competitors are separated into two levels, Charge for Fun and Charge for Glory. In the former level, racers navigate the course at their own pace, while the latter, which involves an additional $20 fee, chargers athletes to go all-out for a chance to appear in HARD CHARGE's upcoming televised series. In these heats, marshals watch over each obstacle, ensuring competitors successfully complete it without the help of guardian angels. However they complete the test, all participants gather to celebrate their personal achievement at a post-race party featuring music, food, and complimentary beer.