The recent drought, which ended only a couple of weeks ago, when heavy rain moved across the region, delayed and stunted the annual Historic Rural Hill Amazing Maize Maze.
Hoping for more growth, officials at the historic site delayed the normal September start date until Oct. 3. The heavy rains on that weekend pushed the opening day back to a rainy Oct. 10.
“We typically have 30,000 people go through the maze, but this year we won’t have anything near that,” said Jeff Fissel, executive director of Historic Rural Hill. Canceling the night mazes – because he felt the field could not take the heavy traffic – and the shortened season, ending on Nov. 1, will decrease the number of visitors as well, he said.
After weeks of rain, sunshine greeted visitors who visited the maze on a recent Sunday. Huntersville resident D.J. Johnson was looking at his map as he led his group through the waist-high corn. “We are lost again,” he said.
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The corn is lower than it is at this time during normal years, easing any claustrophobic feelings and making it easier to solve. Fissel said the maze, roughly 2.5 miles of paths through a 7-acre cornfield, usually takes 60-90 minutes to complete, but this year, visitors are finishing in 40-60 minutes.
“It (the lower height) lets you see where you are going, but you still have to figure out how to get there,” said Fissel. The visitors move from mailbox to mailbox along the path, picking up pieces to complete their maps, “making it easier to find your way,” he said.
Nestled among the corn, beside the route, are signs that give solutions to the crossword puzzle/word jumble on their maps. If they solve the puzzle and jumble, it will give them a hint to the location of the exit.
Charlotte resident Jessica Dunn was hurrying along with her daughter, Avery Dunn, 6, in some of the medium-height corn, which was over Avery’s head. Avery seemed to be enjoying the excitement saying they were in a race and were probably going to lose. “I think this is so much fun,” said Avery. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, we are still having fun,” she said.
Each group carries a flag on a long pole so they can be found if they get lost in the one section of the field where the corn is over their heads. A hay ride, mini-maze made of hay bales for the children, food vendors and pumpkin sales complete the experience.
If you plan to visit, keep in mind that the maze is a cornfield, and dress appropriately, especially if it has rained recently because the paths can be a little muddy. “This is a fun, family activity,” Fissell said. “Come on out, it’s challenging and it’s a good way to get outside to enjoy the fall weather.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to go?
The Rural Hill Amazing Maize Maze, at Historic Rural Hill, 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 1. Tickets are: ages 13 and older, $11; ages 5-12, $7.50; children 4 and younger are free. Hay rides are $3 each. For information on Historic Rural Hill and The Rural Hill Amazing Maize Maze go to: www.ruralhill.net.