Wandering in Crop Circles

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

Starting into the Dakotaland Corn Maze several weeks ago with a group of friends, I noted something that you’d think I’d be used to, growing up in South Dakota: Corn is tall. It towers over my head, which makes it ideal for a maze.

It also makes it a little freaky. I know I’m a complete wuss, but even in the daylight, I sort of got the feeling that once separated from my buddy, we might never meet again. Fortunately, we always did, although sometimes the reunion required a little bit of yelling, “Where are you?”

It’s easy to get disoriented in the log-cabin-shaped maze. The friendly owners handed out maps to each of us as we headed in, and we still weren’t sure where we were at times. My pal and I even took the very last possible wrong turn on our way out of the maze.

Finding the 12 hidden mailboxes, which contain answers to trivia questions handed out with the map, is even harder than maintaining your sense of direction. They’re off the beaten path, mostly hidden by corn stalks. Some groups found just a couple, others up to ten. Nobody in my group found all 12.

The maze is run by the three daughters of the property owner. Val Black, Kathy Morse and Cheryl Duin spend time keeping the paths mowed, taking money and handing out maps. They said the maze has been a hit.

“We plan on doing it next year,” Black said.

She pulled out a letter from an adoring fan.

“I hadn’t had that much fun in years,” wrote the mother who had taken her kids and their friends out for some entertainment.

The maze isn’t just for families. The Dakotaland brochure recommends the maze to everyone from Boy Scout troops to office groups to bachelor partiers.

The sisters are planning something a little special for the maze on Oct. 30 and 31 for Halloween excitement.

“We’re going to have some people out there [in the maze] to be walking around scaring people,” Black said.

In addition, there will be Halloween decorations and the usual trivia questions will be replaced with seasonal ones.

Especially now that Daylight Savings Time is over, don’t forget your flashlight when you head out to the maze, because even the pros can get lost out there.

Morse had a funny story to share that proves the difficulty of the maze.

“I was out there mowing and ran out of gas,” she said. When she went back later, “I couldn’t find the mower!”

Although it may not be easy to tell as you slip through the twisting rows of corn, the maze was created to have rhyme and reason.

After the sisters decided they wanted a log cabin drawn by the paths, they called Rob Stouffer at Precision Maze. He then came up with the design, then cut it out in the field.

“He used GPS on a 63-inch wide lawnmower, and he used that to cut out our design,” Black explained.