Assuming you weren’t scarred for life by viewings of Children of the Corn, corn mazes are as much a fall tradition as pumpkin picking, hayrides, and haunted houses. One of many local options: Wayside Farm Fun in Berryville, which every year for the past nine years has welcomed around 15,000 guests, all of whom are there to sleuth their way through an 8- to 10-acre maze of confoundingly identical cornstalks. Co-owner Harriet Wegmeyer has some intel on these produce puzzles.
What goes into creating the maze each year? “We select the theme and plan the design in February, and we work with The MAiZE, a company that helps create corn mazes all over the world. We map out the field in a grid system, foot by foot. The corn is planted in early June so it’s tall yet still green; when plants are two to three inches tall, we spray the ones we don’t want with herbicide. We don’t use drones during the planting or growing, but we do use one to take some photos right before we open.”
Any tips for navigating the maze? “Well, since a corn maze field is double-planted to be denser, from north to south and east to west, there is no row to follow out. We suggest snapping a picture and then once inside, look for defining characteristics, like SpongeBob SquarePants’s googly eyes (our design two years ago.) We give you passports for two versions of the maze: One is easier for families with young kids or those who don’t want to walk too far, but each has five questions that will give you hints. Our maze is along Route 7, so while you can hear traffic, the stalks absorb sound, and it’s a bit disorienting to tell which direction it’s coming from.”
And if you want an extra challenge? “Tackle the maze at the start of the season, before other guests’ footprints have created a well-worn path.”
What happens if you get lost or panic? “Our Corn Cops are continuously strolling through the maze to help out our guests. If you get stuck, use your cell to call us, and we will do our best to send one to you as soon as we can. We have had people call every two minutes. The corn is so tall that if you are claustrophobic, it can be challenging. But we’ve never had anyone pass out, nor have we lost anyone!”
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Mondays. 5273 Harry Byrd Hwy., Berryville, waysidefarmfun.com