By Jason A. Smith
Susan Serafin, of Alpharetta, said she came to see the corn maze at Southern Belle Farm in McDonough, with her nieces and nephew in tow, because it brought back fond memories of growing up in Illinois.
"I looked on the Internet for fun stuff to do, and it looked like a fun place," said Serafin, 28, while watching the children swim in a large bin of corn kernels. "When I came in, it reminded me of home. I can't wait for the pig races."
Jake Carter, 26, said his family brought the maze to Henry County last year as a way to teach people about life on the 200-acre farm.
"Some people, who come here, have never been to a farm before," said Carter, part of the fifth generation of the family to live on the property, located at 1658 Turner Church Rd. "It's a fun time and a way to educate the public. Our slogan is 'Family fun down on the farm.'"
The seven-acre maze, designed in the shape of a Holstein cow, is currently on display at the farm for the second straight year. Last year, Carter said, the maze attracted about 15,000 people.
"We already have 8,500 school kids booked for field trips [this season]," he said. "We're hoping to have about 25,000 additional people on the weekends."
In addition to the aforementioned pig races and corn bin, several other components have been added to the maze experience this year, including a goat-walking ramp, a tower and a cow train for children.
Other features at the site include a cannon that launches small pumpkins 400 feet across the field adjacent to the maze, Carter said.
"We have a corn cannon that will shoot an ear of corn about 600 feet, if you gear it all the way up," he said.
Carter said the corn maze provides a unique opportunity for family entertainment.
"People are excited after a long, hot summer and looking for something to do, something different," he said. "It's just something you don't get to do every day."
His father, Jimmy Carter, said the maze represents a desire on the part of the family to educate people, particularly children, about farm life.
"We had talked for a long time about doing something like this," he said, estimating that the maze contains 250-300,000 ears of corn for people to wind their way through. "It's good to see it actually come to be."
He said the point of the maze is not to make money, and that he is rewarded by knowing people are being educated by being on the farm.
"That's probably the biggest payback I get - seeing the kids' faces when they're going through the maze," he said.
The cost of going through the maze is $12 for people ages 10 and up, and $10 for children ages 5-9. Children age 4 and under get in free. The maze is open from 4-10 p.m, and Saturday from 10 a.m., to 10 p.m., during the month of September. Sunday hours, beginning in October and extending through Nov. 3, will be from 1-6 p.m.