Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mazes amaze visitors

GPS is employed to create designsin farm’s acreage

Community Editor

PINETOWN — Fall is in the air, which means children are again getting lost in R&J’s Farm’s three creative corn mazes.

In its second year of the maze business, the farm features a sprawling 10-plus-acre pirate ship-shaped corn maze, a treasure chest-shaped kiddie maze and a haunted corn maze.

R&J’s, located on Biggs Road off of N.C. Highway 32 in Pinetown, also boasts a bevy of new activities for children to enjoy, including a pumpkin house and a pirate-ship playground.

Business has been brisk at the farm since it opened its mazes Sept. 5, according to R&J’s co-owner, Jesse Jackson.

“Business has been a whole lot better (this year),” he said.

The farm is open to the public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. every Sunday through Nov. 14.

Dawn Mason, a teacher at Bath Elementary School, brought her family to the farm Friday to pick up some pumpkins and try R&J’s popular Amazing Corn Maze Adventure.

She said the farm provides a family outing that is “nice and safe and different.”

“It’s something the whole family can do,” she said.

Mason and her family “got lost” in the pirate-ship-shaped maze during their adventure game. As part of the game, each participant is given a maze map and a punch card before entering the maze. The map marks 12 spots scattered throughout the maze. At each spot, there is a uniquely shaped paper punch. To properly finish the maze, participants must find all 12 spots and punch their cards at each one.

At the end of the maze is a storage box. Those who complete the maze are encouraged to put their punch cards in the box, and at the end of the season the farm will hold a grand-prize drawing, with the prize going to one lucky maze completer.

Julie Rosene, co-owner of R&J’s, said the adventure game is popular with large groups of children, including Boy Scouts troops, church youth groups and school groups. Some youth groups, armed with flashlights, have tried their luck in the pirate-ship maze at night.

Flashlights aren’t needed or allowed in the haunted corn maze, which welcomed its first frightened customers Friday night. The maze, dubbed R&J’s Harvest of Horrors, will be scaring those willing to be frightened every Friday and Saturday night through Halloween. The cost to enter is $10 a person for all ages.

Younger children may enjoy the farm’s kiddie maze, which features an ABC and treasure hunt.

All three mazes were designed and cut by MazePlay, a company based in Firth, Idaho, that uses GPS tracking to cut corn mazes at farms throughout the country. The company’s Web site gives prospective corn-maze owners a chance to look at various maze designs and network with other maze owners.

Admission to the Amazing Corn Maze Adventure is $7 per person for adults, $5 per person for children and free for children 4 years old or younger. Admission to the kiddie maze is $3 per person.

Customers who bring two nonperishable food items receive $1 off the adult-admission price. The food items are donated to Eagle’s Wings food pantry.

With an influx of customers, donations are expected to be up this year for the food pantry, Rosene said.

“We’re seeing a lot of repeat customers,” Jackson said. “People around the area love it.”

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