The Sun News

Lane Southern Orchards designs corn maze to entertain, educate

Schools plan field trips each year to Lane Southern Orchards’ corn maze, as shown in this file photo.
Schools plan field trips each year to Lane Southern Orchards’ corn maze, as shown in this file photo. The Telegraph

Hayrides, corn cannons and a six-acre corn maze is a great way to kick off fall as well as educate children about a staple Georgia crop.

Lane Southern Orchards will host its annual corn maze Sept. 29 through Oct. 29, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health, according to Wendy Barton, marketing director for Lane Southern Orchards.

Since 2008, Lane Southern Orchards has been planting the expansive maze of field corn yearly in Fort Valley, Barton said. Corn for the maze is planted each June. After it grows a couple of inches, typically by July, a company in Utah is brought in to cut out a design. After that, Lane simply has to maintain and groom the maze until it is ready to open to the public.

This year, Barton said the design is the logo of the children’s hospital. She said they selected that design in honor of their ongoing partnership and to bring awareness about the expansion that is taking place there. Since 2010, Lane has given a portion of ticket sales from its Fall Festival to the hospital, but this year it will also donate a portion of the proceeds from the month-long corn maze.

“Last year we donated $5,000, but our goal is partnering with them the entire month so we can increase that amount significantly,” she said.

David Lane, who handles public relations for Lane, said the hospital is “a great place and is going to be even more fantastic when the expansion is done.”

“It’s going to be a great asset to Macon and the surrounding area,” he said, adding that he had a grandson who was a patient at the hospital when he broke his leg.

The maze will be open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. In addition to the corn maze, visitors can enjoy a hayride, shoot a corn cannon, and possibly win a free ice cream cone. Admission costs to the corn maze vary. Some free activities during the week include the rubber duck races, a mini haybale maze for kids 3 and under, pumpkin checkers, pumpkin tic-tac-toe, and a playground with real tractors.

In addition, a lot of schools take advantage of the corn maze as an educational tool, with more than 1,500 school children going through the maze each year, according to Barton. School field trips are scheduled Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“We like to educate the kids…it’s agriculture in the classroom,” she said. “It’s an educational demonstration about corn, and we show them products from every day that they don’t realize are made with corn. They get to go through the maze, get a hayride and ice cream and get to take a mini pumpkin home with them.”

“There’re so many children that think everything comes from a grocery store,” said David Lane. The corn maze event helps “to enlighten children and school groups about where this stuff comes from.”

In addition to the maze, the Fall Farm Festival will be held Oct. 21 from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. More than 40 vendors will be on site, according to Barton. In addition to the corn maze, the festival will include an array of family-friendly events, such as harvest hayrides, face painting, pumpkin painting, and six bounce houses. Entertainment headliner Josh Courson will perform from 3-5 p.m.