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- $10 for two tickets to the Halloween Corn Maze ($20 value)
- $20 for four tickets to the Halloween Corn Maze ($40 value)
Corn Mazes: One Stalk at a Time
Whether they’re designed by hand or computer, a lot of planning goes into corn mazes. Get lost in Groupon’s analysis of how they’re built.
Getting lost in a corn maze has become one of the hallmarks of autumn, yet corn mazes as we know them really only go back to 1993. That’s when Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, commissioned its now-famous first corn maze, inspired by both the European hedge-maze tradition and the desire to raise funds for farmers impacted by flooding. Today, tens of acres of stalks at a time get carved into grand images of dinosaurs, presidents, or presidents signing treaties with dinosaurs.
How do these intricate patterns take shape? Each winter and spring, the country’s corn-maze owners start to prepare for their autumn visitors by designing their maze patterns and finding ways to outdo their previous designs, whether they’re working with only a few acres or as many as 53. That’s the size of Dixon, California’s Cool Patch Pumpkins maze, which broke its own 2007 world record for largest temporary corn maze in 2012.
The original corn-maze planning method is the grid style, which starts with a design drawn on graph paper or in a simple computer graphing program. The field is usually seeded in late spring or summer—later than fields of corn intended for eating—to help it stay fresh later into the season. Rows are planted running both north-south and east-west to create thick walls of corn that will later keep visitors from straying from their paths. Then, when the corn is about a foot high, farmers or a hired company come in with flags and spray-paint to visually mark paths through each square in the grid pattern in preparation for cutting. Usually pesticide, mowing, or tilling is used to cut down the paths through the maze. Each grid square is worked one by one, like segments of a paint-by-numbers picture, to bring the scale of the job down to a manageable level.
These days, many companies also offer farmers GPS-guided maze cutting, in which a design is mapped with a computer program that integrates into GPS software. With this method, corn can grow much taller before it’s cut, and often a GPS-guided tractor—or just a person armed with a GPS-enabled device and a good pair of scissors—follows the computerized plan to carve out the design.