James Rada, Jr.
Corn mazes have become a popular fall attraction over the years, and Thurmont is home to the largest corn maze in the state. Taylor Huffman with Winterbrook Farms said their maze was also one of the first in the area.
In 2000, Jan Lawyer climbed on a skid load and cut Winterbrook Farm’s first corn maze. It was a way to introduce agritourism to his family farm. It was a random design, but visitors who tried out the maze had fun.
The following year, Jan and Kristen Lawyer hired a small company in Idaho called Mazeplay to design and cut that year’s corn maze. Mazeplay introduced a map and checkpoints to the design.
Each checkpoint has a uniquely-shaped hole punch to use to punch a hole on the map. You can try to make it through the mazes on your own, or you can use the map that shows the maze’s design from above, and try to find the checkpoints within the maze.
“Mazeplay allowed us to do more intricate mazes,” Huffman said.
Cutting the maze continued annually until last year. Some of the designs have featured Iron Man, Drink Milk, and Support Our Troops
“Last year, we started to do GPS planting of the corn maze instead of cutting,” said Huffman.
The maze is open on weekends in the fall.
“We get about 15,000 over the 16 days we’re open,” said Huffman, who is Jan and Kristen’s daughter.
Once the maze closes for the season, the corn is harvested.
“The yield is down a bit because of the trails, but we crossplant the field so it has double the normal amount of corn,” Huffman explained. “It makes sure the corn is thick for the maze.”
Crossplanting means the corn is planted in two directions. This leads to less maze damage from people cutting through the corn walls and less time putting up barricade tape or netting.
By the end of the year, Huffman and her family start planning for the next year’s maze. Mazeplay will then plant the corn the next spring, and once it grows, the trails are already there. No cutting is needed.
This is the 21st season for Winterbrook Farms offering a corn maze to visitors. This year’s maze is actually four separate mazes and more than five miles of trails that form a picture when seen from above. The maze covers 15 acres of cornfields.
Winterbrook Farms is a fourth-generation, 327-acre family farm, and farming continues on the rest of the farm while tourists enjoy the corn maze and other attractions at the farm.
Find out more about Winterbrook Farms corn maze by visiting their website at www.winterbrookfarms.com. View their advertisement on the back page.
The Farm Market at Winterbrook Farms, featuring over 20-plus varieties of pumpkins and gourds, straw bales, corn shocks for decorating, local honey, goat soap and goat milk lotion, bottled BBQ sauce, freshly made apple cider donuts, apples, and much more.