The corn maze craze

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Brett Herbst, BYU alumnus and founder of the MAiZE, the world’s largest corn maze family, lives his life by advice he received long ago.

“My grandma use to always say, ‘If you think about anything too long, you’ll probably never do it,'” Herbst said.

After Herbst graduated from BYU in 1995, he decided to follow his grandmother’s advice and build something he had thought about for awhile.

“I read about a man in Pennsylvania who made a corn maze, and I thought it would be a great idea to bring here to Happy Valley Utah. I rented a piece of land from a man in American Fork and started my first corn maze in 1996.”

This maze was the largest corn maze created in the western United States and drew in more than 18,000 people in its first three weeks. After this great success, Herbst began The MAiZE. Currently, his company makes more than 250 mazes a year in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

What started out as one corn maze has grown to more than five here in Utah Valley. Some mazes are scary, some are for children, some are large and some are small. With a variety of choices, there is something for everyone.

“I love haunted corn mazes because you get scared and you’re also lost,” Zoe Peterson, a 19-year-old freshman from Provo said. “It’s a fun activity because you learn a lot about your friends when they are lost and cannot get out. One of my friends actually cries in corn mazes, which makes it even more fun.”

Other people prefer a more traditional corn maze.

“The big appeal of a corn maze for me is it’s not a haunted house,” Garrett Edmonds, a 24-year-old senior from St. George said. “I’m not a fan of haunted houses. A corn maze is better because it’s something you can do with your friends, it’s great for a date night activity and it’s one of the best things to do during the fall season.”

No matter what type of corn maze it is, people are attracted by the sense of adventure they will have while wandering through the maze.

“There is something about wandering around lost,” Jeri Allphin, senior director of Alumni Relations at UVU, said. “The corn is anywhere from six to eight feet tall and you’re disoriented, but you’re also in a safe environment. It’s a brain puzzle in a giant arena.”

Together with other UVU faculty, Allphin created a special corn maze in Payson. This maze is a collaboration between UVU, the city of Payson and a local farmer to provide scholarships for local Payson residents to attend UVU. The project has been operating successfully for two years.

“We ended up with enough funds from the corn maze last year to give out two full scholarships, which, for our first year, was really good,” Allphin said.

This year’s design of the maze is the UVU logo. Although the designs differ depending on which maze you attend, the process is all the same.

“It’s all designed on a computer,” Logan Bench, supervisor at CornBelly’s, said. “When we implement the design on a field, we usually do it when the corn is still short. We print out the blue prints and then it is just like a giant game of ‘connect the dots,’ where we hand-cut each corn stalk. It takes a lot of hard work and skill.”

This hard work pays off because of the countless people that attend corn mazes every year to see something unique.

“The truth is, there is nothing like corn mazes,” Herbst said.

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