What do a firefighter, a buffalo, a farmer on a tractor and a simple jack-o-lantern have common? Since 2007, each of those images have appeared in the 20-acres-large DeVries Corn Maze, an annual attraction located in Olathe, Colo.
The brainstorm of fourth generation family member and farmer Randy Friend, the maze might be a lot of work but it’s well worth the effort. “After deciding on and drawing out the design (with the help of artist Kevin Davis), we put the entire thing together in four steps,” he explains. “It takes about two days for each, with five people working seven to eight hours at a stretch.” The secret behind the project is the satellite technology provided by Mesa Surveying in Montrose, Colo. “They plot the picture, setting the lines and curves, and after they’ve laid out the paths we go over them with tractors first, then rototillers.” In total, it takes between 200 and 250 hours of labor to pull the massive project together.
In addition to the maze, Randy farms over 800 acres of Sweet corn (for seed) along with pinto beans, wheat and alfalfa; he is also a fulltime firefighter. In order to benefit the local department, on October 27 Randy will again be sponsoring the 10th annual “Punkin Chunkin” event in Olathe, Colo. “It’s pretty big. We have four air cannons, and leftover pumpkins are aimed at all sorts of targets — including old vehicles. It’s fun, fun, fun, all day long, plus it’s free ... although donations to benefit the station are nice,” he adds.
To aid participants in finding their ways through the maze (which is a double feature this season, showcasing a bust of the Montrose football team’s mascot, which is an Indian Chief, along with Olathe’s mascot, a Pirate) everyone is given a map. On it is a wide-angle picture of the two, taken from the air by crop-duster Seth Felix of the Olathe Spray Service. “If people follow the directions, they don’t get lost,” Randy continues. “No trouble. We also put an emblem on each car, as it arrives, with the date and time just to be careful. But if someone really gets turned around, all they have to do is follow the furrows (the slender ditches between each corn row) to find their way out. People can always use their cell phones to call us, too, if needed.” But has anybody ever gotten SERIOUSLY discombobulated within all the twists and turns of so many corn stalks? “We’ve never lost a visitor,” Randy chuckles. “I do the harvest in November and have never found anybody.” ❖