By Lawrence Powell
The crows don’t think much of Terry Evans these days. And you can’t really blame them. The Wilmot farmer has a six-acre scarecrow that’s keeping them away in droves. On the other hand, hundreds of people are flocking to his Highway 1 Pumpkin Hollow acreage to literally lose themselves in the rustic ambiance of rural Annapolis County.
In ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ style, Terry mapped out the giant scarecrow corn maze and waited for people to show up. And they did. He and wife Amy opened the farm gate on Friday, Sept. 4, and by the end of the Labour Day weekend more than 800 people had braved the maze, coming from as far away as British Columbia and the United States. “Most people, when they came out (of the maze) said they had a great time – that it was a great idea,” said Amy. “We got a lot of good comments,” Terry agreed.
Toddlers to grandparents have been equally enthusiastic about what Terry calls a great family experience and great exercise. Some visitors have stayed on site for as long as three hours, walking through the maze collecting stamps, going for wagon rides on the Pumpkin Hollow Express, or taking a walk through the U-pick pumpkin patch. There’s even a hay bale maze for the youngsters who might be a bit timid about walking through the 10-foot-high corn maze.
And one of the biggest hits with the kids has been the corn box – a sand box filled with toys but without the sand. It and a nearby picnic table are shaded by a canopy so parents and kids don’t have to sit in the harsh heat and glare of the sun. “Kids sunburn easy,” Terry said. “This way the kids can play in the corn box in the shade and the parents can keep an eye on them.”
The corn maze itself is divided into two parts – a big maze and a small maze. Visitors are given a map of the maze (some prefer the challenge of not taking the map) and must collect six stamps before coming out. If they do, they get an apple. Amy said that even with the map, people are telling her it takes from half an hour to 45 minutes to complete. And that’s believable considering the cornfield is about the size of a residential subdivision.
IDEA COMES TOGETHER
Terry and his mother Shirley had been talking about the corn maze for the better part of a year. They did some online research, looked at what other people were doing, and found some designs – including the scarecrow. “The idea started to come together,” Terry said, and explained that the corn had to be planted in perpendicular rows that crisscrossed each other – double-planted. When it was waist high, a local surveying company downloaded the scarecrow image and using GPS walked the six acres and marked about 700 points. Terry followed behind with red string to mark out the paths from which the corn stalks were later pulled and the pathways leveled and raked. One of his employees then went through with a pair of machetes and trimmed the leaves.
Amy said she was a little nervous on opening day when only several dozen people showed up. But as word spread, and the long weekend really began on Saturday, Terry’s higher expectations were met. “Monday was insanity, it was crazy,” he said, noting that at times there were more than 100 people in the maze at one time.
Near the entry of the maze, Beckie Drew hands out the maps as visitors start their adventure, and hands out the apples at the end. She also sells the official Evans Family Farm corn maze T-shirts with the scarecrow on the front, plus juice, pop, and bottled water. Picnic tables are scattered around the grounds, which abut the Evans’ actual working farm where crops such as strawberries, peas, beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, carrots, beats, broccoli, and cabbage are grown and sold from their farm market a few hundred feet from the maze. They have another farm market in Kingston and are regular vendors at the Middleton and Kingston farmers markets.
Terry has been growing vegetables since 1992, expanding every year -- and helping father Lloyd with the hog farm. Lloyd retired just as the bottom fell out of the hog industry. The family sold off the pigs, keeping just enough for the demands of the farm market which beside the produce sells eggs, chicken, and pork.
OPEN UNTIL NOVEMBER
By Tuesday the initial rush subsided and Amy said she thought many people don’t realize the corn maze is open through the week, making it an ideal destination for school class trips, daycare outings, and church groups. Amy has even been asked about night-time corn maze adventures.
And as Halloween approaches, the Evans Family Farm corn maze will take on a more ominous atmosphere during the last week of October with a Trick or Treating Maze on October 30 and a Haunted Maze on October 23, 24, and 31. It closes for the season on November 1.
Will the Evans try the same thing next year? “If last weekend was any indication, it’s here to stay,” Terry said.
The corn maze is open weekdays from 1 to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $6 but children under five get in free. Family passes are available, as are class and group rates. The Evans’ Family Farm Market is located at 13842 Highway 1, just east of Middleton.
Get lost at Pumpkin Hollow
Amazing family experience at Evans’ Family Farm
By Lawrence Powell
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