EDITORIAL: Gross Farms’ corn maze a welcome autumn rite

Oct. 12, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Parts of this past week have looked like, and felt more like, winter than a typical North Carolina fall. But an annual autumn rite for us central North Carolinians which serves to brighten the chilly, overcast days we’ve been experiencing is the kickoff of Gross Farms’ corn maze, located on the farm just south of Carolina Trace, off Pickett Road.

The corn maze there has been a popular attraction since farm owner John Gross and his team created the first one there back in 2002.

This year’s version of the maze features more than five miles of winding pathways in a 15-acre field of corn and includes three “puzzles” for participants to make their way through. Fear of getting lost? No problem: staff and maps are stationed throughout the maze to make sure it’s a source of entertainment, not total bewilderment.

An added attraction is that the maze once again has a military theme, with a “Thanks to our Troops” design included within.

In addition to the maze, the farm host tours and field trips designed to help children learn about life on the farm, plus games, hayrides, play areas and — in the spirit of fall and Halloween — a pumpkin patch.

If that’s not a great fall treat, what is?

“We want to bring back memories from people’s childhoods,” owner Gross told The Herald last week. “There are some kids here who’ve never been on a farm. Some adults, too. We’re trying to teach them about farm life while they have a good time.”

It’s also a great example of the burgeoning agritourism business, where farms — subject more than most businesses to fluctuations and whims that make making ends meet tough at times — diversify.

The maze and farm are open through Nov. 3. Information about hours and ticket prices, which range from $3 to $16, are available at www.grossfarms.com.