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Corn maze grows help for nonprofits

September 04, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • With a walkie-talkie in one hand and her plush horse Spirit in the other, Alexandra House, 7, and her grandmother, Martha House, make their way Saturday through the Hagerstown Corn Maze at Celebration Farm on Garden View Road off Cearfoss Pike.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Clarence Horst had land and figured he ought to do something worthwhile with it.

"There are people in Hagerstown who have needs," he said. "I thought, why not take some of that land and start growing things for people."

So he grew potatoes at Celebration Farm and donated them to Food Resources Inc. of Hagerstown. But that was only the beginning.

When he got the idea to open a corn maze to benefit the farm, he decided instead to carry the idea of benefiting nonprofits one step further.

In 2009, Horst grew corn on eight acres of land and mowed three mazes through the stalks. The farm invited nonprofit faith-based organizations to run the mazes on weekends, Friday through Sunday, and to keep a portion of the proceeds.

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"Our goal was to draw 2,000 and we ended up with around 3,000," he said.

The 2010 season of the Hagerstown Corn Maze got off to a strong start Saturday, with nearly 200 people taking to the mazes on Garden View Road off Cearfoss Pike by late afternoon.

"We're way ahead of expectations," Horst said. "It looks like it's gonna be a good year."

Fourteen nonprofit groups, including Hannah House, REACH Caregivers and LifeHouse Bethel Children's Ministries, will partner with Celebration Farm to host the maze throughout the season.

Admission to the 1.2 miles of trails is $5 for adults and teens. Two of every five dollars will go to the participating nonprofits and Celebration Farm will use the rest toward operating costs.

Visitors to the maze receive a map for each of the three mazes, with the option to mark specific sites along the way with a provided paper punch.

Tim and Christina Rapp of Middletown, Md., took their five children to the maze for a "family day," they said. Rachel, 16, and Caleb, 12, made their way through before the others.

"The rest of the family wanted to punch holes and really go mapping and orienteering," Rachel Rapp said. "But Caleb and I just wanted to split up and run around. This is really fun."

Mary Fortson of Hagerstown took her grandchildren Shaun Rollins, 10, and Jakyra Fortson, 4, to the mazes last year and returned this year. Fortson said one of her colleagues at a local school attends a church whose youth group will host the maze.

"We came last year because it was a family-oriented thing," Fortson said. "It was serendipitous that it benefits others. Shaun has just been learning about being altruistic."

Shaun said he "had a blast" at the maze.

"It's not like you can do it all in five seconds or something," he said. "It's fun to go in and take your time and try to find your way out."

Horst said a number of youth groups plan to search their way through the mazes after dark. He recommended allowing an hour or two.

"By flashlight or by moonlight, it's a lot of fun," he said.

The Hagerstown Corn Maze will be open Friday through Sunday until Oct. 31. It also will be open Labor Day.

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