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Corn maze offers back-to-farm fun in rural Georgia

By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia

The opening of the 0015 Moody Farm Corn Maze 0DE8 was almost exciting enough to make Brantley County farmer David Moody forget how much he had to overcome to get there.

Planted at the end of July in "the driest year I can remember," Moody's 6-acre corn maze was besieged by insects. "I sweated and prayed and everything I could think of to get what I've got," Moody said.

It still isn't what he'd hoped for. The deep-green corn foliage is stunted by drought and riddled with holes eaten out by corn worms. For the first several yards at the maze entrance, the corn isn't even head-high.

But it's still a corn maze, and Moody said the first 66 people who came to test the mettle of his maize were delighted. "It wasn't a huge crowd, but it was good," he said. "People were coming all day. A lot of them said they planned to come back."

Why a corn maze? "It's the nature of farming," Moody said. "We have to look at different ways to make a go of it." His 740-acre farm along the Satilla River got most of its income from eggs until 2000. "The nature of the egg industry," he said, "has made things pretty tough since then."

Where?

The Moody maze is a mile and a half off the old Woodpecker Trail (Georgia Highway 121) near Hoboken, Ga. It's open until Nov. 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays for field trips and groups ($5 per person, with the teacher admitted free).

Admission is $7 for anyone 4 or older on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Children under 4 get in free.

Moody has put together quite an experience:

  • The cornfield maze has a small section with 1 mile of trails and a larger, 2.4-mile trail.

  • For children and people in wheelchairs, a 72-bale hay maze offers an easier challenge.

  • Two large "corn boxes," each filled with 1,500 pounds of shelled corn, are a big hit with toddlers.

  • A hayride ends at pens where youngsters can interact with young cattle, horses and sheep.

  • Sheltered tables, swings and cypress-log benches offer a place to picnic, play or just relax and enjoy the scenery in the shade of large oak trees.

Lots of help

"David's whole family has been involved in putting this together," said Bob Boland, county coordinator for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Brantley County.

Moody's daughter Joy Matthews, an interior designer, created decorative touches that help complete the sense of fun at the farm. His wife Elaine and son David designed the hay maze, and his son Brian helped with the picnic area. Friends Larry and Will Wainwright, John Sumner and Brandon Wright pitched in, too.

Boland's wife Jeanie, executive director of the Brantley County Development Authority, started pushing agritourism in county meetings to spark the idea. She noted that the counties bordering Brantley (15,000 population) have another 200,000 people.

"Bob and Jeanie were a big help," Moody said.

When Moody and his wife got interested in a corn maze, they visited similar mazes in Florida and Tennessee. They finally contracted with MazePlay (mazeplay.com) to design and cut the maze.

The company has designed mazes nationwide, including three others in Georgia: Uncle Shucks (www.uncleshucks.com) in Dawsonville, Grandpa Jones' Corn Maze and Pumpkins ( 0025 www.mazeplay.com/showmaze.php?maze=72 01C1 ) in Ellijay and Joe's Rows (www.joesrows.com) in Sautee.

Moody said the maze has already been rewarding. "It has rewards beyond the financial, just seeing people come out here and enjoy themselves," he said. "A lot of places out in the country have 'No Trespassing' signs. Here, we're saying, 'come on.'"

For more information on the Moody Maze, call (912) 288-4730 or (912) 458-2230. Or visit 0016 btconline.net/~dwmoody 2673 online.

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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