Pumpkins, corn mazes and crisp, cool weather are sure signs that fall has arrived. Since 2017, residents in the Rolesville/Knightdale area of Wake County have had a month-long way to celebrate fall’s arrival with the opening of Crossroads Corn Maze.
Owner Lee Perry started the maze with his wife Paula, and their two children Charlie and Kaylee. His family has farmed the area for five generations growing tobacco, soybean and wheat over the years. Perry currently farms 30 acres of turf grass in the Wendell area.
The five-acre corn maze has quickly became a favorite for families, church groups and others looking for a fall outdoor activity to enjoy together. Just as Perry envisioned, visitors to the maze stay for a while and watch the kids attempt the maze, enjoy a fire pit or play one of the outdoor games.
“Having a corn maze in the area was a long-time dream for me,” Perry said . “I wanted an activity for the kids in the Wake Forest/Knightdale area that was local and fun.” Perry’s goal was to get to know his neighbors and see friends. The maze has brought out plenty of both.
The maze will also follow some extra precautions this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of guests in the corn maze will be monitored, all fire pits will be socially-distanced and employees will be in masks. Guests are encouraged to buy their tickets online in advance. “Some of the games that we have put out in the past may not be available this year,” Perry said, “but we have made up for that by making the maze even harder than it was last year so it should be a challenge.”
The pandemic made many farms rethink a corn maze this year. Since the corn would have had to be planted earlier in the summer, it was hard to know what the North Carolina and CDC guidelines would be several months later.
“The corn is also not quite as tall this year,” Perry said. “The rains we’ve had washed some of the fertilizer away. Farming is all about the weather. Farmers always look to the good Lord for weather and that is what it is all about.”
A corn maze is cut before the stalks grow tall. The Perry’s use Wayne Batten from Johnston County to cut their maze. Batten usually cuts about seven mazes each year across the state, but this year, it was just three.
Batten, who worked in ag extension for both Wake and Pender counties for 30 years, has more than a decade experience cutting mazes.
“In 2009, I had a phone call from a farmer in Kernersville about cutting a maze,” Batten said. “This year I cut their 11th maze. Batten also has cut mazes from the mountains to areas in eastern NC.
He starts by drawing the cornfield on grid paper and then adding the design. “I then use a computer program and use the computer of the zero-turn mower. His designs include Patches the Scarecrow, a giant firetruck and for the 50th anniversary of an apple orchard, a giant 50 with apples.
“Crossroads Corn Maze is designed with several crosses incorporated,” he said. “I, too, think it will be a challenging one this year.”
The funniest story I have heard at any of the mazes was the family that I cut a maze for in Fayetteville,” Batten said. The farmer’s three-year-old grandson would walk the maze everyday after it was cut. He could find lost customers quickly in the maze – and they would be teased about being found by a three-year old.”
Crossroads Corn Maze is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Oct. 2 through Nov. 1. Hours are 1 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday. For an extra challenge bring a flashlight and try the maze at night. Also, on the last weekend (Oct. 30 to Nov. 1) bring your leashed pets to help you navigate the maze.
The Perrys offered these tips to visitors coming to the maze.
- Purchase your tickets online in advance
- Wear tennis shoes
- Plan to stay and enjoy the fire pits to watch others coming in and out of the maze.
- Bring your eagle eyes for the scavenger hunt. Take photos of the objects you find in the maze with your phone.
- Check the website or Facebook page before heading out for any updates.