What’s In a Maze?

By Jordan Smith

Images by Elizabeth Lucille Photography

Fall means pumpkin picking, sweater weather, apple cider, and corn mazes. Many people know what a corn maze is or may have raced through one, but don’t understand what goes into making one.

The Sproul family, who runs the Heartland Country Corn Maze in Harrisburg and has been doing so for 17 years, is here to give us an insider’s point of view. The creation of the maze is a year-round effort. 

“We plan and draw the maze in the winter,” Karen Sproul explained. “In the Spring the corn is planted both directions. It is all manual, no GPS. We do a grid system and a lot of row counting.”

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When the corn is three or four inches tall, the maze is cut using a zero turn lawn mower. A week before the maze opens, it is cleaned up with weed eaters. The leaves on the paths are trimmed so they will not hit people when they are walking through. The Sprouls, life-long farmers, draw, cut and run the maze themselves. There are companies you can hire to do this, but they have been doing it themselves since day one. The result is an 11-acre design visible from the air.

“We have done a buffalo, pheasant, walleye, coyote, horse, dinosaurs, butterfly, owls, swans, bears, peacock, turkey, cougar, eagle, deer, and this year is a cow and calf. You can see all of them on our website,” said Karen.

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The corn that is used is just normal field corn. To make a good maze it must be at least six feet, so it is over most people’s heads. After the maze closes, the family will harvest the corn. To maintain the maze with so many people tromping through, it is gone through periodically throughout the season and debris is cleaned off the paths.

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Read the full article in the October issue or click here