Get lost in the wonder of fall in Arkansas with corn mazes, corn cannons, farm fun and more!
[dropcap]While[/dropcap] the average person may not understand the intricacies of agriculture, it’s common knowledge that without farmers, humans would be a hungry species. A less well-known fact is that these same farmers have the capacity to provide lots of fun and adventure for all ages.
Several farmers in Arkansas have opened their operations to the public to pique curiosity and flex mental muscle through corn mazes and other activities. A corn maze consists of numerous pathways cut out of a cornfield. They appear in different designs and some even tell a story. Most paths follow the perimeter of the maze. They can end in the middle or lead explorers back out again to find the finish.
The common underlying reason for establishing this fall fun is to provide another revenue stream for farmers. The ones we spoke with have achieved that goal and enriched their lives.
Katherine and Dallas of Peebles Farm in Augusta opened their corn maze when row crop farming wasn’t sustaining their standard of living. When their now-adult daughter was in the second grade, her class wanted to set up a field trip to a working farm, Katherine recounted.
“The following year, we researched corn mazes. They were costly to create so we did some research and have been hand-cutting our maze without GPS until this year,” she said.
Like other farmers around the state, the Peebles create a different design every year. “We started with just a maze, a pumpkin patch and a hay ride. Now, we’ve added activities every year and our farm includes sunflowers, cotton, a huge play area, duck races, pumpkin house, picnic area, concessions, train rides, horse and wagon rides, bonfires and tons of places for picture-taking.”
It’s common for people to get lost in the maze, Katherine said, but there is security walking through to assist those who need it. A former labor and delivery nurse, she noted that one evening, a group of girls came running out screaming that someone was having a baby.
“I was so excited and ran in there to find it was just a prank,” she said.
They have had couples get engaged on the farm, however.
Peebles Farm also offers the corn cannon, which shoots out an ear of corn at a target using 60 pounds of compressed air. The winner receives a pumpkin of their choice, Katherine said.
The Peebles work hard each year to bring fun for all because they want to pass on the legacy to their daughter, a nursing major at Arkansas State University, Katherine noted.
“We love it and it provides us with good income, which allows us to offer discounts and free trips to those who are disadvantaged,” she said.
Peebles Farm, which is handicap accessible, is open through Sunday, Oct. 31, Monday through Sunday. For specific hours and rates, visit peeblesfarm.com
Farmland Adventures in Springdale is owned by LuDonna and Dwain Parsons. Like the Peebles they opened their adventure in 2011 to bring in extra income to their existing farm.
“We wanted to create a place where families could spend some time together and take home memories,” LuDonna said. “We wanted to create the best atmosphere we could for having a good time. We also want to teach people about agriculture while having fun.”
After the first year, they quickly learned how much time and work it takes to create a corn maze. This year’s 9-acre maze has an election theme, with the corn cut to create an outline of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As guests explore the maze, they’ll be invited to learn about the electoral process, U.S. government and other historical facts.
Similar to the Peebles, Farmland Adventures has seen its share of engagements take place. And staff is always on hand to help people find their way out of the maze if the need arises.
This farm only hopes to keep growing and expanding each year, LuDonna said. “We would like to continue having a place where families can spend the day with their family and build relationships with each other.”
Appealing to all ages, the farm also offers a petting zoo, pony rides and a play area for little ones. Older children and adults flock to the maze, pedal karts and foosball. People may visit Farmland Adventures through Saturday, Nov. 5. Hours and more specifics may be found at farmlandadventures.com.
Corn Maze at Lollie
Corn Maze at Lollie in Mayflower, now in its 13th year, boasts about an 18-acre maze. The operation is run by Patricia Schaefers, her daughter, Angela Raw, and her daughters-in-law Debbi Schaefers and Brandi Schaefers.
The first year, Patricia said, brought much excitement from people. “They didn’t really understand what a maze was; however, so we had to put flags in the maze and put phones in there. Sometimes we had to go in find them.”
Luckily, the lost weren’t ever too frightened and knew they were in good hands, Patricia said. “We all have a good laugh when that happens.”
This corn maze too has had special requests for engagements. That’s always a delight, Patricia said, noting she also enjoys seeing children’s reactions when they first go in the maze. Children also love the corn pit. “They just bury themselves in it,” she said.
The theme of the maze changes every year. “It’s getting harder to come up with one each year,” Patricia noted. This year’s theme also is in line with the upcoming election. It reads, “We the farmers have had enough.”
“We’re not trying to make a political statement one way or another,” Patricia said, “we just want to get people’s attention and remind them it’s important to vote whether they are farmers or not.”
Corn Maze at Lollie is open through Sunday, Oct. 31. Visit cornmazeatlollie.com for more details.
Ozark Corn Maze
Northwest Arkansas is also home to Ozark Corn Maze in Cave Springs. The farm features three separate mazes, a hay maze, corn canon, pumpkin slingshot, pony rides, 4-acre pumpkin patch and more.
The farm fun lasts through Saturday, Oct. 30. To learn more, visit ozarkcornmaze.com.