Autumn is finally here, and the Horn Field Corn Maze has returned this October; it’s open every Saturday and Sunday this month. New this year….Outdoor Pursuits, a new student organization through the Campus Recreation Department, is involving itself in the popular tradition of Horn Field Corn Maze.
According to Assistant Director of Campus Recreation Patrick McGrath, Outdoor Pursuits is the campus recreation effort to give students the opportunity to have new experiences and enjoy the outdoors. “We have a heap of activities,” he said. “We go rock climbing. We have ski trips… backpacking… we want to give students opportunities to experience the recreational outdoors,” McGrath said. But Outdoor Pursuit Events aren’t just for students. “Alumni can certainly get involved. If they can serve as resources, [such as] suggesting places to go, volunteer, or if they want to participate in the events, they can. They can do anything they want!” he said.
Outdoor Pursuits wants people to get more active outdoors, and that is why they are helping with the Horn Field Corn Maze. For more than 10 years, people have traveled from near and far to experience Horn Field’s Corn Maze. Mindy Pheiffer, the Program Coordinator at Horn Field Campus, helps coordinate the maze. She said the maze itself is stretched over ten acres of Western Illinois University land. It is part of the 90 acres that makes up Horn Field Campus. “People from the community know it’s a well-known event. It’s been around for, at the minimum, ten years. It is our number one revenue maker,” Pheiffer said.
Pheiffer has been helping coordinate the Horn Field Corn Maze for the past seven years. She works with an intern who is primarily responsible for designing the maze. Back in May, the student intern was given a list of designs for the maze that has been done before as to not repeat a design. And this year, the design is based around the theme “All Roads Lead to Macomb”. To complete the maze, you need to find your way to Macomb.
Since May, Pheiffer and many student volunteers walk out to the maze, and set up stakes to determine where the corn will grow. As the corn grows, the group stomps down the corn to make paths. Once the corn grows high enough and the maze finally begins to look like a bona fide maze, Pheiffer treats the intern who designed the maze to a plane ride. “We do an aerial view, which is the reward for the student who does all the work. [The student] rides in the plane and takes pictures,” she said.
Up until the last week, Pheiffer and student volunteers were making preparations for the maze. Together they did test runs to make sure it isn’t too simple or too difficult. Also during test runs, they made sure there are enough turns within the maze.
And now that October is in full swing, the community and students can go out and enjoy finding their way through the maze on weekends. “It’s a big family event,” Pheiffer said. “We have grandparents bring their grandkids to burn energy. It’s fall! It’s beautiful.”
On Saturday nights, the Corn Field Maze has flashlight nights. Pheiffer said guests should bring their own flashlights to help find their way through the maze; she guarantees there is no one there to scare you. She did mention that there is a spooky feeling which only makes the maze experience all the more fun. There will only be one night when the Corn Field Maze will be “haunted,” and it will be on Halloween night. Come if you dare!
Every Saturday and Sunday, you can visit the Corn Maze from 1-4 p.m. Flashlight nights are on Saturday’s from 8-10 p.m. The Haunted Corn Maze will be on October 31 from 8-10 p.m.
WIU’s Horn Field Campus is located south of Macomb at 985 China Road. If you’d like to find more information about the Corn Field Maze, visit http://www.wiu.edu/coehs/rpta/horn_field_campus/corn_maze.php. For more information about Outdoor Pursuits, please visit http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/campus_recreation/outdoor_pursuits/index.php.