Navigating a corn maze is a fun way to spend a fall afternoon. While you’ll find a whole crop of them around the region, Wayside Farm Fun in Berryville has one of the best (and at ten-acres, it’s also one of the biggest.) Each year, one of their fields is planted with corn in the chosen design–this year, it’s an homage to Sonic the Hedgehog’s thirtieth birthday–and 15,000 guests attempt to solve the easy or the hard version. My family and I visited on opening weekend.
Take a photo of the maze with you.
Attached to the side of the entrance barn right before the start of the maze is an aerial photo of the maze, complete with a representation of Sonic, the name of the farm, “30 Years” and a border pathway. Snap a photo of it with your phone, or take a screenshot of the one from their website, before heading in, which might help you figure out where you are when you are in the thick of things.
But know that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, so to speak.
We thought the photo would make it a no-brainer if we got turned around or lost once inside. Turns out that it’s more difficult than it seems. Was that circular path we were on Sonic’s eye, the number zero, or just one of the circles designed to confuse us? The picture did, however, let us know when we were on the labyrinth-like border that surrounds the entire maze–just not where, exactly. Inside, with stalks towering all around you, it all kind of looks the same–which is interesting in itself.
Wayside Farm Fun is situated next to Route 7, so we used the sound of the traffic to help orient us–ditto for the position of the sun and the sound of the pumpkin cannons. Depending on whether you select Version 1 or Version 2 of the maze, there are a series of multiple choice trivia questions to answer about Sonic that will keep you on the right route. Selecting an answer will instruct you to turn left or right, for example; and if it’s not correct, you can just double-back and try the other choice. And if you panic or get really frustrated, just use your cell to call a Corn Cop, who will collect you and lead you towards the exit.
Allergy-prone? Remember your meds.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you might want to pop that antihistamine before heading out, especially if it’s earlier in the season. My son, who is very prone to sniffling and sneezing from pollen, ragweed and other allergens, also found that his arms were getting red and itchy from brushing up against the stalks’ leaves as we worked our way through. You might want to wear long sleeves or tote a tube of anti-itch cream.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t solve it.
Wayside staff members told us that the longer version should take us an hour to an hour and a half to complete. After around seventy-five minutes of meandering, my teens were kind of over it. A peek through a row showed us that we were right near the edge, so we (carefully) made our own path without destroying any plants. I felt a little cheated and was half-ready to head back inside, but I knew cider donuts awaited, so we accepted defeat.
Stay for the other activities.
Speaking of snacks, there is a lot to do at the farm besides tackling that maze. Kids of all ages can whoosh down the slides, jump on the air pillow trampoline, climb a hay bale mountain, or play a game of hoops, while families can divide into teams for a few rounds of tug of war. You can feed the goats and watch them saunter across an elevated walkway, see alpacas, cheer on adorable piglets racing around a track, shoot pumpkins from a cannon (or watch them being dropped and smashed from a construction cherry-picker.) Fuel up with a snack–definitely don’t forget to take home a dozen donuts, which come in cinnamon-dusted or vanilla-glaze.
Wayside Farm fun is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Mondays and is located at 5273 Harry Byrd Hwy., Berryville, waysidefarmfun.com.