Maze opens Sept. 28
Trent Mathews’ family farm is in Milton, not Iowa. And he’s never heard a mysterious whisper coming from the cornfields.
Nevertheless, he was pretty sure that if he built it, they would come.
“If you put something out there, and really put some pride into it, it will be something that people will like,” said Mathews, 33. “It seemed like a good fit for us, something we could do on small acreage and work our way into the family operation.”
In this case, the “it” that Matthews built is a maze in his cornfield at Sweet Seasons Farm. The maze started as a five-acre project in the Beaches to Woodlands Tour five years ago. Growing every year, this year the effort will measure eight acres. He runs the the maze with his wife, Sharon. They have four children, ages 9, 8, 3 and 2.
In 2012, about 16,000 people toured the maze. This year the design honors the 10th anniversary of the Beaches to Woodlands Tour.
Mathews – who is a soil conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture – comes from a farming tradition. His father and grandfather, Steve and Hankins Mathews, are still farmers in Santa Rosa County.
Many of the maze’s visitors have never been to a farm before.
“A lot of our customers are military,” Mathews said. “A lot of those folks have grown up in rural areas and have been through corn mazes where they were from. They like to bring their kids so they can have the experience.”
The corn will be about seven feet tall when the maze opens on Sept. 28. Mathews estimates it will take about 45 minutes to navigate the course.
Besides the maze, the Sweet Seasons Farm experience offers a jumping pillow called the “corn popper,” corn cannons that shoot corn cobs, a country carousel made out of horse walker and other farm-themed attractions.
New this year is an animal barn with cows, pigs, chickens and goats. Patrons will be able to feed the animals.
Sweet Seasons Farm Corn Maze and Fall Festival will be open Sept. 28 to Nov. 3. It will be open Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays in October only, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the “flashlight maze.” It will also be open on weekdays for schools that wish to schedule field trips.
Admission is $10 for the “whole cob” experience, which includes the maze and all activities at Sweet Seasons Farm. Just the maze, hay ride and access to the playground is $8.
The maze will collect food for the Manna Food Bank and will sell pink porcelain doll pumpkins with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. In 2012, the maze collected 400 pounds of food and raised about $1,000 for charity.
Mathews said he hopes the maze inspires people to become more interested in the role agriculture plays in their everyday lives.
“We want people to be able to come out and see a farm and ask questions,” Mathews said. “The most enjoyable part for us is for people to come out and see where their food is grown. We like talking to people about that.”
IF YOU GO:
- Location: 2260 Horn Road, Milton
- Dates and times: Sept. 28 to Nov. 3; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays in October only, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Admission: $10 for the “whole cob” admission, which includes the maze and all activities; $8 for maze, hay ride and access to the playground.
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