The Amazing Maze of Maize

Corn Maze 1

I’m about 5’10” tall (177 centimeters).  The corn in the background is over ten feet tall… and twelve feet high in places!

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Saturday was an interesting day.  The weather was accommodating and it was possible to spend over 2 hours on foot wandering around a corn field in the name of having fun.

Note from V.T.   Please check out the Iowa Maize Maze. org website and click on “About” to see all of the maze designs since 1998.

Located at the town of Elgin, Iowa next to the Gilbertson Nature Center, the maize maze is now open for business for the fall season.  The corn maize is sponsored by the I.P.P.A.  (Iowa Pork Producers Association) and taken care of by Mr. and Mrs. Laverne Swenson.  Lavern holds the title of the “Maize Master”.
Corn Maze 2

After paying a modest entry fee ($7 for adults, $5 for ages 5-11) to traverse the 4 acre cornfield, participants are given a maze map and offered four paper “quizzes” with cool facts about geology, pork, corn, and other interesting topics.  Clues are located throughout the maze.

To the right is a picture of the map loaned to each participant.  The design you see on the right changes each year.  The Maize Master created the artwork the last two years.  The design then becomes planted corn – a manual effort involving marking off squares and precisely hoeing parts to reflect the diagram.  (Local Amish people often help and are great workers, according to Mr. Swenson).

Notice the pig shape in the center, as well as pork related words:  ham, bacon, boar, loin, etc.  The words are located in anatomically correct places on the pig diagram!

In addition to being a good fitness activity, the corn maze offers great learning opportunities for kids of all ages.  As you see on the map, there are many red and yellow dots.  The red dots corresponds to pictures on stakes – these are mainly for navigation purposes.  When the corn is ten or twelve feet high, you need all the help possible!


The yellow dots mark “mailboxes” set at strategic points.  The mailboxes are often hidden well – places that dead end or you might walk right on by.  Inside each mailbox one will find answers to the quiz questions.  Navigating to the mailboxes varied from easy to challenging.  I remember walking through the path that spelled “B O A R” several times, occasionally grumbling about the hot weather.

Though tired and soaked with sweat, the entire activity was a blast and the quiz papers (totaling 60 questions) kept the maze interesting.  Some of the questions answered included how pigs came to the U.S. (Christopher Columbus brought them over) and how many caves there are in northeast Iowa (six).  How many corn plants are in the maze?  About 310, 000… plus or minus!

Corn Maze 3After emerging 2+ hours later (it should have taken 45 minutes!), it was time to cool off.  The Swensons let me pick some ears of Indian Corn and popcorn.  The Indian corn will be for a decoration in the home base (not in the van – mice would destroy the corn).  I’m planning to dry out the popcorn for later use.

It’s likely I’ll visit another corn maze this year if all works out.  It was that much fun.  In speaking with friends and co-workers, those of us who have walked through a labyrinth of maize all seemed it enjoy it… and agree that it’s not easy when the summer sun is beating down!  It was hotter than the devil’s dining room this weekend.  I’m so ready for summer to fade into autumn.

Indian Corn and Popcorn

Popcorn on the left… Indian Corn on the right

So what’s on the horizon?  The weather is going to break tonight, with temps dropping from highs of 90 to the upper 60s as the seasons start to change.
Over the next two weeks the intention is to watch the “leaf forecast” and take a day trip north to get some vivid leaf photos with the X8C drone… and catch some fish, of course!

In the meantime, Jesse James might get to go on an overnight camping trip to a nearby park later this week… to a place called Matsell’s Bridge.

That’s it for now.  Have a terrific end to the Labor Day weekend.  Thanks for stopping by our part of the state.

Brad, Jesse James, and Vanse a.k.a.”Van-Van”
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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