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Mercersburg corn maze kicks off fall season

September 01, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Erin Lowe of Waynesboro, Pa., enters the five-acre corn maze at Stoner's Dairy Farm in Mercersburg, Pa., on Saturday with her children, Kaleb, 1, and James, 5; nephew, Cole, 2; and other family and friends.
By Roxann Miller

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — It was tough work navigating the intricate paths and oversized corn stalks that towered over 8-year-old Sean Scott as he made his way through a dinosaur-themed corn maze Saturday.

Sean, his 6-year-old brother Noah, aunt Holly Hallett and grandmother Becky Chilcote of Mercersburg worked up quite a sweat after getting lost in the maze for nearly an hour.

As the family enjoyed refreshments, Chilcote said despite their misadventure the family was having a great time.

“I think Sean and I got stuck in the belly of the dinosaur,” Chilcote said with a chuckle.

Stoner’s Dairy Farm and Corn Maze at 7678 Oellig Road in Mercersburg was in full swing Saturday, marking the unofficial end to summer and a nod to the fall season ahead.

This is the sixth year the Stoner family has designed a corn maze and offered a petting zoo and play area for the community, according to Jaime Stoner.

The five-acre maze is open through Nov. 4 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $5 per person.

Each year, the corn maze has a unique theme, Stoner said.

This year, the family-approved theme is dinosaurs.

“Our farm family has a ballot, and everybody votes on the top three themes,” Stoner said. “We vote again until we have a definite winner.”

The maze annually draws 5,000 to 10,000 people to the Mercersburg family farm.

“I’d like to think that people like the country — they like the slower pace. I’d like to think it’s because it’s affordable for their family. I’d like to think there aren’t very many farms anymore and people want their kids to experience a little bit of that,” Stoner said, explaining the lure of the corn maze.

This year, she said the maze is really high — about 13 feet tall — thanks to the abundance of rain. She said visitors to the maze rarely get lost but often get a bit confused inside the maze.

“All you can see are blue skies,” she said.

To make the maze family-friendly, the entire Stoner farming family helped hand-pull the paths in the field.

“We plant the field and when the corn is a foot high, our designer comes to mark the field with the design that we want,” Stoner said.

He put the dinosaur design on the field and the family went through and pulled out all the corn to make the paths, she said.

“We don’t mow it because it will leave the stubble, and we like to say that our maze is family-friendly as far as strollers, wheelchairs and scooters can go through it very nicely,” Stoner said.

This year, it took the family two 12-hour days to hand pull the paths, she said.

Stoner said one of the main reasons the family develops the maze every year is to create a sense of community.

“We want to be good neighbors and show that farmers can be good neighbors. We just want to get the community to the farm. We don’t want to just educate them — we want to let them experience the farm. That’s the reason we do this,” Stoner said.

Erin Lowe of Waynesboro, Pa., took just about her entire family to visit the maze.

“We come every year,” Lowe said. “The kids like the animals, and we like the corn maze.”

She was keeping her fingers crossed not to get lost since her family’s chief navigator — her husband — was not in attendance.

Last year, it took about 40 minutes to make it out of the maze with her husband’s help, she said.

This year, Lowe took her sons, James, 5, and Kaleb, 1; her sister, Devon Cavell; her nephew, Cole, 2; and her mother, Lynn Smith.

For more information on the corn maze, go to www.stonersdairyfarm.com

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