Popular corn maze goes political

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | 5:45 p.m. CDT; updated 9:53 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Cameron Dorth, 11, punches out the answer to one of ten questions on her card on Friday, Oct. 10, at the corn maze at Shryocks Callaway Farms.

COLUMBIA — There wasn’t a pick-your-own pumpkin patch at the Shryocks Callaway Farms this year, but it had no effect on the popularity of the farm’s main feature, the life-size corn maze.

Debbie Shryock said the wet weather conditions in the spring not only prevented the farm from planting the pumpkin seeds but also resulted in a late planting of corn and beans.

“There was a point when we wondered if we could even get the corn planted,” Shryock said.

Fortunately, the Shryocks were able to grow the corn, and throughout the month of October when the leaves of corn usually turn brown the leaves at the farm’s corn maze were still a vibrant green.

“In the long run, it paid off to grow the corn later,” Shryock said.

Conner and Samantha Crocker, sisters who visited the corn maze with their middle school class, couldn’t agree more. “We come here every year, mostly in October and November to go through the corn maze,” Samantha said.

As for the pumpkins, a wagon filled with them will be available for sale; they just won't be from the Shryocks' farm this year.

Corn Maze 2008 Season

WHAT: Corn maze at Shryocks Callaway Farms

WHEN: Through Nov. 2. From 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and from 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays

WHERE: Off Interstate 70, 12 miles east of Columbia; take the Millersburg exit

ADMISSION: $7 for adults, $6 for children ages 4 to 12, free for children 3 and younger, $6 a person for groups of 20  or more. All children 12 and younger must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Ticket sales on Friday and Saturday will end at 9 p.m., and the maze will be cleared at 10:30 p.m. Ticket sales on Sunday will end at 6 p.m., and the maze will be cleared at 7 p.m.


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Debbie Shryock’s husband, Mike Shryock, designs the corn mazes. He begins the process by using GPS technology to design the maze. After the corn grows to about a foot high, he marks the corners of the design on the field with bright stake flags that guide him when he finally mows the design onto the field. Debbie Shryock said just marking the field with the stake flags took up to two weeks.

This year’s maze is called “The Race for the White House” and celebrates the upcoming presidential election. The design includes the White House with the symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties, the donkey and the elephant, on either side.

Samantha thought the design for this year was interesting because she’s interested in politics. Samantha and Conner said they thought last year’s corn maze was pretty easy, but this year’s corn maze was anything but.

“It’s harder than last year and the year before,” Conner said.

Not only do people need to find the 10 checkpoints around the maze but also answer each checkpoint’s political question correctly. Depending on how many checkpoints and correct answers people have, they have the chance to enter into one of three drawings for an iPod, a bike or Shakespeare’s pizza and Shake's frozen custard.

Even though the prizes are an extra incentive to get through the entire maze, the Crocker sisters are pleased with their experience.

“We got frustrated a lot, but we got four (checkpoints) and I got all of them correct,” Samantha said.

For those who have yet to go through the corn maze, she offered some advice: “If you’re ever going in here, always go left. Go left. You always go left. Sometimes go right, though. If you’re going to go through, there should only be two reasons to go right — if you’re leaving or if you’re going the wrong way.”

The corn maze is open on weekends. This fall marks the seventh year it has been open to the public, Debbie Shryock said, and the farm will continue the tradition as long as people keep coming. About 600 to 800 people a day visit the corn maze, she said, and the further it gets into the month, the more people turn out.

“The school groups are a lot of fun. We get to know teachers and just families, even from St. Louis,” Shryock said. “We’ve enjoyed visiting with people and working with each other.” 

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DON MERKLE October 23, 2008 | 8:21 a.m.

A Corny good time by all.

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