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Arts & Life

This fall, puzzle your way through these Kansas City corn mazes

Burst - Unsplash.jpg
Burst
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Unsplash
Explore the many corn mazes at small farms across the Kansas City region.

The thrill of the chase and some good old-fashioned outdoor artistry have made field mazes a local favorite in recent years. Check out KCUR's guide to the most a-maze-ing challenges around.

This story was first published in KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

Corn mazes have a centuries-long heritage, stemming from the knot gardens and hedge and yew mazes developed in Europe in the early 18th century. Towering stalks obscure the twists of the path, bringing to mind the origins of the land when prairie grasses would grow higher than a man standing on horseback.

The challenge of a puzzle, the thrill of the chase, a sense of artistry and a good old-fashioned outdoor activity — plus allowing city-slickers the opportunity to get back to their roots — have made the field maze a local favorite in recent years.

Agri-tainment (i.e. agricultural entertainment) started cropping up in the Kansas City area about 20 years ago. Following the “maze craze” of the '90s, smaller family farms began implementing this popular and family-friendly activity to supplement their yearly income.

There are about 15 mazes within an hour’s drive of Kansas City, most of them even closer, depending on where you are in the metro. Maze exploration can take between 20 minutes to an hour, depending on a maze's size and complexity (and how lost you get).

Many farms create new field designs every year and field mazes are often attached to pumpkin patches or other agri-tourism locales, so there are usually other activities available, too.

Check out some of the area’s a-maze-ing offers, and support the local farmers who help feed our community.

Enigmas up north

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Liberty Corn Maze
One of the largest corn mazes in the Missouri, Liberty Corn Maze began in 2004 and consists of four mazes designed into one large image.

Though corn (aka maize) is the most iconic, maze-makers have used hay bales, soybeans, sunflowers, bamboo, sorghum and tall grasses to create these labyrinthine fields. Some of the earliest mazes in the region were designed by land artist Stan Herd, whose field art was featured in the 2020 inauguration celebration for President Biden.

One of the largest corn mazes in Missouri, the Liberty Corn Maze is just about 30 minutes from the city. This 1,000-by-1,000 foot maze (that’s about 25 acres or nearly 19 football fields) started in 2004 and consists of four mazes designed into one huge image.

This year, the design celebrates the travels of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark. Each maze has a different length, and the field has a few bridges installed to help you get a better view of the field. Follow your heart (or use the provided map) and become a Maze Master by finding each of the hole punches scattered throughout the maze (six per maze, 24 total).

There are also four smaller mazes, including the Lil’ Sprout soybean maze, best suited for smaller kids. Liberty Corn Maze is next to and operated by the same family that hosts Carolyn’s Pumpkin Patch. Combo pricing is available, as well as season passes for return visits.

A little farther north is Fun Farm, in Kearney, Missouri. Along with its “Big Ol’ Maze,” Fun Farm has a kids’ maze, treehouse village, animals, games, races and lots of play structures.

But you don’t have to devote hours to appreciate a farm-tastic adventure. Weston Red Barn Farm is free to visit, with a maze that costs $4 per person (map provided).

Pumpkins, Etc., in Platte City, Missouri, has two mazes and hay bales to climb is free to visit and sells produce and flowers. Crazy Craig’s A-Hwy, near Liberty, Missouri, has a straw maze and hay mountain (for kids, both free) and a variety of mums for sale.

Southern stalks

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Louisburg Cider Mill
The 10-acre corn maze at Louisburg Cider Mill is just one part of your pumpkin patch experience.

At Louisburg Cider Mill, the 10-acre corn maze is only part of your pumpkin patch experience — but it’s a big part and included in admission during regular hours (pumpkins and some activities are priced separately).

If you're looking for something a little more "earie," visit during Zombie Forest Night on Oct. 16. You can dress up, bring a flashlight and explore the maze by night. (Bonus: it's also a fundraiser for the Paolo High School Robotics group.) The following weekend is Burning Scarecrow night, with bonfires, wagon rides, live music and another chance to test your nighttime navigation skills.

Nearby is Powell Pumpkin Patch, which offers free access to a 35-acre u-pick pumpkin patch, a nature trail and wagon rides, with a fee to visit the picture maze made from the farm's corn and soybean fields.

Johnson Farms, Plants & Pumpkins has a 15-acre maze in Belton, Missouri. Inside Kansas City limits is Faulkner’s Ranch, which counts a field maze of grasses among its attractions, along with its pumpkin patch and activities, and hosts a Wild Western Weekend Oct. 16-17.

Southeast to Lone Jack, Missouri, there’s The Pumpkin Pad, with three mazes across 15 acres. Each farm includes its maze with admission.

Corn-fused in Kansas

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Justin Ladia
You can find a number of corn mazes in Kansas, including ones near the Kansas City metro.

Lamborn Farm, in Leavenworth, Kansas, was founded in 1877 and remains a family-owned working farm featuring a 100-year-old barn on the National Register of Historic Places. The farm features an 8-acre corn maze with a “whodunit” game.

Some weekends include special discounts on ticket prices, including this weekend: athletes and sports fans can get 10% off admission Oct. 16-17 when wearing a team uniform or favorite team shirt.

Kerby Farm Pumpkin Patch in Bonner Springs, Kansas, has an interactive “maize maze” included with admission, as well as a spook house and other activities. Near Lawrence, Kansas, Meuschke Farms offers a corn maze, hayrides and straw bale pyramid — all free — when you visit the pumpkin patch.

Nearby is Schaake Pumpkin Patch, a three-generation farm that started selling pumpkins back in 1975. They have a “spooktacular” hay bale maze set up for kids and other activities.

Farther a-field

Soybean Maze
Libby Hanssen
Liberty Corn Maze's soybean maze is the ideal height and distance for kiddos.

Gary’s Berries, Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, east of Topeka, Kansas, has been doing this since 2000, with one of the longest-running corn mazes. The Fall Festival includes a ton of activities on the farm, too, including fireworks at dusk on Friday evenings, wood carving and glass blowing demonstrations (Oct. 16-17), a magician and the Trail of Lights every weekend.

Gieringer's Family Orchard and Berry Farm in Edgerton, Kansas, features an educational and interactive, farm-focused corn maze and kids’ maze, with fun facts about the history of family farming. The mazes are included in the price of admission.

Feeling inspired and happen to have a few extra acres at hand? You can try creating your own maze with a trusty tractor, a design and GPS. Or, check out the work of Precision Mazes, a Missouri-based company that has created mazes and land art all over the country.

Helpful tips for your corn maze trip

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Kevin Zamani
Following the “maze craze” of the 90s, smaller family farms began implementing this popular and family-friendly activity to supplement their yearly income.

Here are a few suggestions to make your corn maze adventure a little more comfortable and enjoyable.

  1. Corn mazes are usually grown on working farms. Wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. Use bug spray and sunscreen. If exploring by night, make sure you have a flashlight handy!
  2. Stay on the path and avoid knocking over stalks or ears of corn, as this damages the maze for others and the farmers' harvest.
  3. If there's a map available, grab it! If you get too turned around, try following the wall until you find something familiar, or someone to help you out.
  4. Most local mazes operate until Oct. 31, but dates and times vary. Double-check before heading out.

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