SPRING GROVE – Nothing says Fall quite like pumpkins, football, apples, and of course, a corn maze.
This weekend the “World’s Largest Corn Maze” opens to the public in suburban Spring Grove.
The intricate maze sits on 28 acres at the Richardson Adventure Farm and has 10.3 miles of trails.
It also made the digital travel magazine Trips to Discover’s list of 11 Amazing Corn Mazes to Visit in the U.S.
WGN News Now spoke to George Richardson, owner of Richardson Adventure Farm, to find out more about the maze.
“This year we’re celebrating 60 years of James Bond movies,” said Richardson. “So, a very fun theme for us. Every year that we’re deciding which theme we’re going to have for the corn maze we’re thinking about not only what makes a good picture but what is interesting to the public also.”
In addition to selecting the theme, Richardson and his family also helped design the corn maze. Once they’ve chosen a theme, they sketch a design on the computer and then send it to their maze designer, Mazeplay.com in Idaho.
“He does about 150 corn mazes all across the United States but ours is the largest of course, so we put a lot of extra time into this,” said Richardson. “We send our scribbles up to him and then he puts it into an illustrator program, sends it back and says is this what you’re thinking? And then we’re like well let’s make this guy a little bit larger, let’s shift this over here…..So then he plays with that, and we email back and forth probably a dozen times over the winter while we get the design honed down.”
Richardson said Mazeplay.com then uses high-tech corn planters with planter units equipped with individual shutoffs. So as the tractor drives across the field, the units drop corn seed to plant the pattern based on the design.
The Richardson Adventure Farm maze is a checkpoint maze which means it’s not just one way in and one way out. The maze also has no dead-end trails because Richardson doesn’t want people to feel hopelessly lost; and if someone should get lost, he said they can always walk toward their 60-foot-tall observation tower located at the entrance of the maze.
Before entering the maze, everyone gets a map with a total of 24 checkpoints labeled. It’s estimated to take about an hour and a half to solve the entire maze, and in order to do that, you’ll need to find all the checkpoints and get your map paper punched at a wooden post set up at each checkpoint. If you get 20 or more, you can receive a full-color “certificate of completion” that says you solved the “World’s Largest Corn Maze”.
Visitors can also play up to five games within the maze, including a quiz trail, while there are shorter trails for little kids such as one that is right turns only, and another that is left turns only.
“A lot of places, pumpkin patches, are designed for little kids and stuff. But we decided long ago that big kids like me like to have fun too, so we have some bigger things like there’s a park train that adults ride, the carousel, we ride the horses. It’s just fun you know,” said Richardson. “And then the zipline, 700-foot zipline is really nice for the Chicagoland area.”
Richardson adds they also have zorbing, where people get inside an 11-foot diameter clear plastic ball and roll down a hill, pig racing, a paintball shooting gallery, and a giant slide.
He said they’ve always offered beer and wine on the grounds, but that this year they’re adding a large draft beer tent, opening September 24, and a BBQ truck.
The sports car will be in front of the entrance to the corn maze and available for photos but not test drives.
You hear more about the “World’s Largest Corn Maze” and the Richardson Adventure Farm in the video above.