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Atlanta speedway featured in cornfield maze

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Southern Belle Farm, in McDonough, is planning to celebrate 50 years of the Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Southern Crescent.

For the fourth straight year, the farm's operators have created an intricately designed maze inside seven acres of cornfield, that visitors can enjoy.

The design incorporated the image of famed Georgia Bulldogs sports announcer Larry Munson, during the fall of 2008. This year, it will commemorate the Atlanta Motor Speedway's 50th year of operation in Hampton.

"The Atlanta Motor Speedway has played a huge impact in our local community and in our state, and is the largest attraction Henry County has," said Jimmy Carter, owner of Southern Belle Farm. "We thought it was only appropriate to commemorate this huge milestone for AMS."

The farm is set to unveil the newly designed maze on Sept. 19.

"The air traffic over our farm is pretty regular, with us being on an obvious flight path to the Atlanta airport," said Jake Carter, son of Jimmy Carter. That allows the maze design to be seen by many air travelers.

Jake Carter, who manages the farm, added that paths have been cut through the cornfield, filled with thousands of rapidly growing corn stalks. He said, when fully grown, the life-sized puzzle will include trivia questions about auto racing to help visitors find their way through the maze.

Correct answers send you down the right path, he said, while wrong answers will get you lost in the maze.

"For the general public that comes out, they all have a great time," he said. "From toddlers to 70-80-year-olds, the kids enjoy being out here on the farm. The general consensus is that people who have come out, have had a good time."

Weekend crowds tend to be consistent over the few weeks the maze is open, according to Jake Carter. During the fall, he said, the farm averages 14,000 visitors on weekends, and 8,000 school children on week days.

He said the farm plans to offer a pick-a-pumpkin patch, hay rides, a sort of barnyard petting zoo, and a miniature pig race. However, he said he expects the Atlanta Motor Speedway tribute will be one of the farm's more popular attractions.

"Atlanta Motor Speedway is proud to have been a part of the Henry County community through the years, and this is a unique way to celebrate our 50th year," said Ed Clark, president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway. "There are so many people in our local community who have played a role in making AMS a national destination."

Southern Belle Farm, located at 1658 Turner Church Road in McDonough, will be open weekends this fall, from Sept. 19 through Nov. 1.

It is open to visitors on Saturdays, from 10 a.m., until 10 p.m., and Sundays, from 1 p.m., to 6 p.m. For costs and more information, visit the farm's web site.

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On the net:

Southern Belle Farm: www.SouthernBelleFarm.com