TOWNSEND, Mont. — In this week’s Out and About Feature, fall is in the air (maybe even winter depending on where you are in the state), and what better way to ring in the new season than with a corn maze? Though at Edgewater Farms between Townsend and Toston, there’s a lot more than just a maze.
With hay rides, a corn pit (think of a sandbox with dried corn), a giant slide, and much more, a lot of work goes into putting on the event each year. Edgewater Farm’s owner Nancy Davis says they continue to put it on because they want to provide an opportunity for people to come out and have a great day with their kids, without having to worry about the cost of a day out.
“I had five kids – have five kids, they're older now. It's expensive to go somewhere with your kids. And it was stressful, because you have to like keep track of all your kids and it costs a lot of money. So, our goal is to have something affordable. There's lots of acreage, it's easy to keep track of your children, they have things that they love to do. It's just a safe place to bring your family,” said Davis. “We want people to come here and spend four or five hours and think, ‘Oh my gosh, that $10 wasn't that much.’”
Starting Sept. 23, every Friday and Saturday the farm will welcome people in to check out what they have to offer, but according to Davis, you may have to pull your child from the corn pit kicking and screaming because of how much fun they’re having.
“It's like a huge sandbox kids play in, and so many times you walk by and there'll be a parent carrying a child who's screaming and I'm like: ‘Are you okay?’ ‘Yeah, they didn't want to leave,’” said Davis with a chuckle and a smile.
Though, what goes into making Edgewater’s main attraction, the corn mazes?
“I design on the computer, our farmer, who is either Nancy's husband or son depending on the year. He plants half of the corn seeds one direction, and then he turns his tractor perpendicular and plants the other half the other way,” said Janelle Nygard, a partner at the farm and corn maze designer.
Nygard said she started designing corn mazes after lucking into an internship, that has turned into a dream job where she’s been able to share her work all across the country and internationally.
Nygard said each design is custom for each farmer, and sometimes it takes a couple of iterations to get it right, but once the design is set, they just have to mark the design early in the corn’s growing process and then pave a lane through it.
“I just walk the field a lot of times when it's real short, so I can see the grid out there. I use spray paint and I spray out the design the first time through and then I go back through with the backpack sprayer and we actually kill the corn when it's real short so the maize actually ends up growing as a maze,” said Nygard. (See what she did there?)
Though they have to kill the corn to pave a way for the maze, the remainder of it gets harvested and turned into feed for the farm’s cattle.
This year, the theme of the maze is ‘Keepin’ it Rural’, and in Nygard’s experience, mazes like this at family farms not only keep it rural, but keep it local.
“Having a corn maze has actually saved dozens of family farms around the country. It is something that we as a – we call ourselves come a corn family with the maize company. And it's not just providing fun, wholesome recreational activity for families, which is a main goal, but it does save family farms. In this world where commercial farms are taking over the smaller ones, this has helped countless people,” said Nygard.
The Edgewater Farms corn maze is open every Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. until the end of October.