- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 22, 2005

From the sky, Temple Hall Farm Regional Park’s Corn MAiZE is an 11-acre expanse of baseball diamonds, zigzags, bats, gloves and the proclamation “Baseball’s Back!”

From the ground, though, it’s a sea of 12-foot-high cornstalks guaranteed to delight — or frustrate — visitors, depending on how easily they get through the labyrinth.

The maze is an annual October attraction at the park near Leesburg, Va. Planning for the theme and design of the maze gets a lot of thought, says park spokesman Mark Riddell.

Past themes have included everything from a rendering of the famous painting “American Gothic” by Grant Wood to last year’s masterpiece, a likeness of Coach Joe Gibbs to celebrate his return to the Washington Redskins.

This year, honoring the Washington Nationals was a timely suggestion, Mr. Riddell says. The park works with professional corn-maze designers to plan the intricate pattern using Global Positioning System technology and plant the corn accordingly.

Trying to get through the maze with two fourth-graders on a recent Saturday was alternately good exercise and a lesson in reminding the children to stay together. Even the fearless 9-year-olds worried what would happen if they lost their companions in the maze.

“It was a lot of fun,” one boy said, “but I wouldn’t want to be a little kid and be lost in there.”

The best way not to get lost is to pay attention. At various points along the way, trivia clues are posted on placards. Correctly answering a sports, TV, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or American history question will give visitors a clue which way to turn next.

Several lookout platforms are stationed in the maze. Climb on top of one of the 20-foot-high platforms, and you might be able to see which way to go.

If the clues don’t work out or you have had enough, it is possible to retrace your steps to find your way back to the beginning. There also is a rescue crew that can help.

“We have ‘corn cops’ to assist people,” Mr. Riddell says.

The maze is open until 10 p.m., and visitors can go through after dark with flashlights to increase the difficulty — and the spookiness — factor.

Going through the maze should take about 45 minutes, but the trip could be much shorter or longer depending on how seriously the clues are followed.

Out in the open, there are several activities for children as part of a fall festival at the park. For an additional fee, children can slide down an inflatable slide, fire corn from a corn cannon, jump in a moon bounce or lob water balloons at one another.

Preschoolers will enjoy free activities such as riding a cow train, a train with tiny cars painted like cows and pulled by a tractor; taking a hayride; visiting farm animals; running through a small hay maze; or stopping by the pick-your-own pumpkin patch.

Other corn mazes in the area:

• Winterbrook Farm’s Moonlight Maze, 13001 Creagertown Road, Thurmont, Md. This year’s maze has a NASCAR theme with more than eight miles of trails over 35 acres. Open Fridays (dusk to 10 p.m.), Saturdays (noon to 10 p.m.) and Sundays (noon to 6 p.m.) through Oct. 30. Tickets: $7 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 12; children 5 and younger admitted free. More information: 301/271-4826.

• Forrest Hall Farm, 39136 Avie Lane, Mechanicsville, Md. This farm has a 5-acre maze geared toward younger visitors, as well as pumpkin-patch fun such as hayrides and animals. Open weekends 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. through Oct. 30. This year’s maze is cut in the shape of a steamboat. Tickets, including hayride and activities: $6; children younger than 3 admitted free. More infor-mation: 301/884-3086 or www.forresthallfarm.com.

• Corn Maze in the Plains, Route 245, The Plains. The theme for this year is Barn to Be Wild, featuring organic corn cut into the shape of a barn. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 4. Tickets, including a hay-bale obstacle course, giant slides and other farm activities: $7 for adults, $6 for ages 4 to 12; children 3 and younger admitted free. More information: 540/456-7339 or www.circleof seeds.com.

When you go:

Location: The “Baseball’s Back!” Corn MAiZE is at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park, on Limestone School Road just past Leesburg, Va.

Directions: Take the Dulles Greenway to Route 15 north. Make a right onto Limestone School Road.

Hours: The maze is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 30.

Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 11; children 5 and younger admitted free. An additional $3 buys tickets to a slide, moon bounce and other attractions.

Parking: Plenty of parking available.

More information: 703/777-6732 or www.nvrpa.org.

Notes:

• Temple Hall Farm Regional Park, part of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, has an 11-acre corn maze to celebrate the harvest season. This year’s theme is “Baseball’s Back!” and the professionally designed maze includes various baseball items in its layout.

• Wear shoes that can get muddy.

• Be prepared to spend some time in the maze, as it could take 45 minutes or more to find the way out.

• Staffers will assist visitors if they get hopelessly lost.

• If visiting after dark, bring a flashlight.

• Some concessions are available at the park.


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