Corn confusion: Time for corn mazes in East Tennessee

Oakes Farm's corn maze this year is dedicated to the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

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Oakes Farm's corn maze this year is dedicated to the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

When is a field of corn not just a field of corn? When it's a maze of stalks.

It's a relatively new fall attraction going back slightly more than a decade in East Tennessee. But it's one that returns each season. For fall means corn-maze time.

Area farmers expand their business opportunities by growing large fields of corn, having paths and patterns cut into them and then charging admission to people who wish to navigate their way through the labyrinths.

Some mazes get creepy and haunted in October. Others remain absent of the undead, offering families a chance to get a glimpse of life on a farm while enjoying the outdoors.

Many mazes offer extras such as pumpkin patches, hayrides, playgrounds and food. Some open on weekends only; others open on some weeknights as well. Some have become longtime traditions. In Blount County, working Maple Lane Farms has opened a corn maze since 1999.

Newer to the maze business is the family dairy Cruze Farm in East Knox County. Cruze opened its maze last year and returns with more farm fun this fall. At the farm off Kodak Road the Cruze family has cut an eight-acre corn maze overlooking the French Broad River. There's a Cruze maze for children that teaches them about the steps required to make ice cream. And there's also an adult maze where participants find famous Tennesseans "lost" in the field. Other activities include the sale of the family's ice cream and milk.

Some mazes incorporate intricate designs visible from the air. Maple Lane's 2012 maze is a 10-acre tribute to area Maryville College; the image of the school's iconic bell tower of its Anderson Hall has been cut into the corn. The maze also incorporates the words "Maryville College" and "Towers Above" into the design.

Maple Lane owner Bob Schmidt is a 1978 Maryville College alumnus. The maze design was made to call attention to a $4 million fundraising campaign to renovate the 1870 Anderson Hall, which is the college's oldest building.

In Corryton, it's the 12th year for the corn maze at Oakes Farm. This longtime fall maze business has grown annually for the family farm that's known for its nursery business of growing day lilies and perennials. At Oakes there are separate "regular" and "haunted" mazes as well as an expanded array of activities.

This year's "regular maze" has been designed to mark the arrival earlier this year in Knoxville of the now-canceled television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The program built a new house for Daniel and Mandy Watson, the founders of the nonprofit Restoration Home of East Tennessee, and some of the people who work at Oakes helped with the volunteer construction. The design cut into the 9- to 10-foot-tall corn at Oakes spells out the name of the TV program and includes the word "Thanks."

Each year the Oakes maze is created in a design that is visible from the sky if not to the people who wander through its puzzling paths. Past designs have included the face of race car driver and local boy Trevor Bayne and a tribute to the Lady Vols basketball team.

Over the years Oakes has added other farm-focused activities to its maze on its "Back 40." The current 25 different activities include a giant slide, a huge "bouncing pillow," pedal carts and a petting zoo.

Halloween is a big season at Oakes ever since the farm started its haunted "Trail of Doom" maze. With three acres of corn and a trail into nearby woods "Trail of Doom" is one scary path. Visitors should be prepared for chainsaw-wielding monsters and other scary creatures in the corn.

Oakes has added three new attractions this year to the Trail of Doom that are part of the one haunted maze admission. New this year is the tented "Chaotic Carnival," a more traditional haunted house/tent; a maze that incorporates wooden pallets called "Perplexion" and another path called "Elemental" that incorporates natural elements like fire and wind.

At Oakes and many other farms, maze time is a question of timing and weather. "We used to open quite a bit earlier but folks don't tend to come out until it cools off and turns into fall," says Ken Oakes. "And once Halloween hits, folks are on to something else."

Attached to this story is a list of area corn mazes with times, admissions and some of their attractions. A few notes — wear comfortable shoes, put some cash in your pocket for food, money for a pumpkin or two or to let the children enjoy some of the attractions that might have fees outside of admission. Bring your camera.

And those going to a haunted maze should be prepared to be frightened. Monsters in the corn are nothing to giggle about. Screaming, however, is totally accepted and expected.

AREA CORN MAZES

Heading out to a corn maze? Check out our list of area farms, mazes and events.

Cruze Farm Corn Maze

What: Family & children's mazes, hay ride, pumpkins, children's activities, farm animals, food

Where: 7309 Kodak Road, Knoxville

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday weekends through Oct. 27-28

Admission: $8 adults, $6 ages 12 and younger, free ages 2 and younger; hayride to pumpkin patch $3; free children's activities, pumpkins,food for sale

Info: www.cruzefarmgirl.com

Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch at Oakes Farm

What: Regular maze; haunted "Trail of Doom" maze with four attractions, animal exhibits, hay maze, pedal karts, hayride, pumpkins, giant bouncing pillow

Where: 8240 Corryton Road, Corryton

When: Maze 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday & Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Sunday Oct. 5-7, Oct. 11-14; Oct. 18-21, Oct. 25-28, Oct. 30-31, Sunset Praise Night for church groups 6-10 p.m. Oct. 10 & Oct. 17; separate haunted Trail of Doom open Oct. 5-6, Oct. 11-13, Oct. 18-20, Oct. 25-27, Oct. 30-31; hours 7-11 p.m. nightly except 7-10 p.m. Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20 & Oct. 27

Admission: Regular maze $10 ages 11 & older, $8 ages 3-10 includes regular maze, hayride & "back 40" activities, add a pumpkin for $5; church group Praise Night $6 admission, $10 admission plus meal; Trail of Doom $18 adults, $16 ages 10 & younger, $2 less Thursdays if bring canned food item for Second Harvest (haunted admission doesn't include hayride/ other activities, tax not included)

Info: www.oakesfarm.com

Maple Lane Farms

What: Corn maze, hayride, pumpkin patch, children's rides, music, food, haunted maze, haunted maze not recommended for children, pregnant women or people with heart conditions

Where: 1040 Maple Lane, Greenback

When: Maze 6-10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 31; Haunteed maze starts at dusk, with last person entering maze at 10 p.m. Oct. 19-20, Oct. 24-31

Admission: Maze $12 d ages 12 & older, $8 ages 6-11; free ages 5 & younger (includes tax); hayrides $2.50 a person, ages 5 and younger free; haunted maze $13 a person,

Info: www.tnmaplelanefarms.com

Ballinger Farm Crazy Maze

What: Maze, hayride, pumpkin patch, farm animals, playground with two 80-foot slides, straw bounce

Where: 2738 Renfro Road, Jefferson City

When: 6-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 1

Admission: Maze $10 per person, includes all activities; children under 2 free with paying adult

Info: www.ballingerfarm.com

Deep Well Farm Corn Maze

What: Maze, hayrides, pumpkin patch, petting zoo; bring a flashlight for late afternoon trips

Where: 9567 Highway 11E, Lenoir City

When: 2-dark Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-dark Saturday, noon-dark Sunday through Oct. 31

Admission: $8 for maze, $13 for maze with pumpkin patch

Info: www.DeepWellFarm.com

Echo Valley Corn Maze

What: Three mazes plus two children's mazes, children's train, hayride, playground, petting zoo, haunted trail

Where: 915 Bethel Church Road, Jefferson City

When: 3-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 1-8 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 4; haunted trail dusk-11 p.m. Oct. 12-13, Oct. 19-20, Oct. 26-27

Admission: Regular mazes, playground & barn $7 ages 12 & older, $5 ages 3-11; "The Works' admission with pumpkin, hayride, children's train, animal feed for petting zoo $14 ages 12 & older, $12 ages 3-11; Haunted Trail $15 per person

Info: www.echovalleycornmaze.com

Howard Farms' Big Piney Corn Maze

What: 8-acre maze, scary movies on Saturdays starting at dusk

Where: 11122 Watkins Road, Loudon

When: Maze 6-10 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 1-8 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 31

Admission: $8 adults, $5 ages 6-12, free ages 5 & younger

Info: http://thehowardfarms.com

Kyker Farms Corn Maze

What: Mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patch, straw crawl, corn tub, jumping pillow; four maze trails/themes include a scavenger hunt, farm facts, tater tot maze for young children, and a going-in-circles "maze daze; at dark maze is haunted in "The Trail at Kyker Farms that may not be suitable for young children

Where: 938 Alder Branch Road, Sevierville

When: Maze 4 p.m.-dark Thursday & Friday, 10 a.m.-dark Saturday, 1-6pm. Sunday; Haunted maze opens dark Fridays & Saturdays, mazes open through Oct. 28

Admission: Regular maze $12 ages 6 & up, $7 ages 3-5, free ages 2 & younger; haunted trail $12 per person

Info: www.kykerfarmscornmaze.com

Mayfield Farm Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch

Where: Mayfield Farm and Nursery, 257 Highway 307, Athens

What: Eight-acre maze, pumpkin patch, hayride, corn hole, jumping pillow, tours of dairy parlor, hay jump, "Judgment Day" haunted trail

When: Maze 4-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 1-7 pm. Sunday through Nov. 4; haunted trail sunset-11 p.m. Oct. 12-13, Oct. 18-19, Oct. 20, Oct. 25-28, Oct. 30-31

Admission: Maze $9, $9 pumpkin patch, $14 combination maze & pumpkin patch; $3 hayride & grounds ticket, $1 pedal cars, cow train, corn cannon; haunted trial $10 adults, $8 ages 10 & under

Info: www.mayfieldfarmandnursery.com

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