Time for fall: Maple Lane Farms corn maze opens Friday
By Robert Norris | (email@example.com)
ALCOA’s Tennessee Operations has been honored with a number of ceremonies commemorating its 100th year. In it’s 15th year, the corn maze at Maple Lane Farms in Greenback is joining the celebration with a design that features the ALCOA logo and the number “100” above the words “Tennessee Operations Centennial Anniversary.”
“This is the 100th year of ALCOA in Blount County, and I’m proud to help them celebrate their centennial,” said Bob Schmidt, owner of the farm.
The maze covers 10 acres on the 225-acre farm and will again have trivia-type questions to help guide visitors through the correct maze path — if they give the correct answers.
Schmidt said this year’s maze features the best field of corn he has had in those 15 years. But it came close to being a natural disaster.
In summer, when Schmidt normally plants his corn field for the maze, weather made that impossible.
“It all goes back to the Fourth of July, when it rained so much. We had a stream of water draining out of the field. It could have been a small creek that ran for 10 days to two weeks,” Schmidt said.
“Finally it dried up enough for us to get into field and get it planted. Right after that it started raining again, and we have the best corn field we ever had. God looked after us.”
It took 45 to 50 days for the corn stalks to reach 10-feet tall. Under normal weather conditions, it takes 75 days to grow corn to that height, according to Schmidt.
Open Sept. 27-Oct. 31
The Maple Lane Farms corn maze will open to the public on Friday with the last day set for Oct. 31. Operating hours are 6-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission for ages 12 and above is $9. Ages 6-11 are charged $7. Ages 5 and under get in the maze for free. Hay rides around the farm cost $2 for everyone 6 and older, with no charge for children 5 and under. Schmidt said there will be more and better children’s rides this year.
People again can pick their own pumpkins from the field. Like the corn stalks, this year’s pumpkin crop is excellent, according to Schmidt. Pumpkins are priced by size, with basketball size going for $6. This year, the pumpkin patch opens on Friday, the same day as the maze.
The farm store will be open and feature fall crafts and displays. The concession area will have items such as cheeseburgers, apple cider and pieces of pumpkin pie.
“And let’s not forget, one of the simplest but most favorite things is that every night we have a campfire. People can bring chairs and roasting sticks and marshmallows to roast on the bonfire,” he said.
Fond of s’mores? Bring some Hershey’s chocolate bars and Graham crackers.
Haunted corn maze
As Halloween nears, the corn maze will be transformed into a haunted maze that will be held Oct. 24-31. The haunted maze will start at dusk and end at 10 p.m.
“It is not recommended for people with heart conditions, pregnant women or young children,” Schmidt said.
The unseasonable summer rains that ended up helping to make the Maple Lane Farms maze flourish also could help improve attendance. Schmidt said he is committed to the maze, so he jumped at the window of opportunity when the rains let up. He went ahead and planted his corn when he got a chance and was rewarded for the risk.
Back when the Maple Lane Farms maze was the only corn maze in the area, attendance peaked at 50,000-55,000. But with competition from other area corn mazes increasing in recent years, the number of visitors at the farm has fallen to 35,000-40,000.
Because of those summer rains, some areas mazes will not be open this fall, possibly boosting attendance at Maple Lane Farms, which is located at 1040 Maple Lane in Greenback.
“We’ve been a been partner of Blount County over the years. People have been picking their own pumpkins here since 1992. With all the fall activities, now more than ever we need our customers to support us at the farm,” Schmidt said.