Corn maze: fun and educational

Relax. Aliens didn’t carve the cornfield into artwork visible from their space ship. But no, the corn didn’t just grow into fancy shapes, either.

Relax. Aliens didn’t carve the cornfield into artwork visible from their space ship. But no, the corn didn’t just grow into fancy shapes, either.

The annual Corn Maze at the South 47 Farm is carefully sketched and measured out on graph paper, then painstakingly cut into paths by Roger Calhoon, a.k.a. “Farmer Roger” and his crew.

The maze opens Wednesday, Sept. 10 and is in full swing through the end of October.

This is the eighth year for the South 47’s Corn Maze. The design is always related to farming. Last year it depicted wildlife. There’s been an “Art of Farming” theme with a take-off on the painting “American Gothic,” a farm heritage motif with a man and a horse-drawn plough, etc. This year, the maze is in the shape of a tractor.

“Our farm is all about drawing people into what we do,” Calhoon explained.

The South 47 is a working farm that grows and sells fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs to organic standards.

“The whole corn maze movement started in the mid-to-late ‘90s,” Calhoon continued. “We knew we wanted to do a pumpkin patch and this is a nice complement. A piece of it is education, teaching people about farming and what a wonderful resource we have here.”

Indeed, the South 47 is situated in a lush parcel of the Sammamish River Valley, right between Redmond and Woodinville. Being there makes you feel you’re “out in the country,” taking in a taste of a simpler time.

The maze here is designed to appeal to people of all ages.

“We get a lot of families, also groups of young adults,” Calhoon noted. “It’s about enjoying a day out,” not trying to confuse or scare anyone.

“It’s a difficult line. If you make it too easy, people get bored, or if it’s too hard, they get bored, too,” he said.

There are signs with questions along the way, some meant to be humorous and others referring to farming trivia. The answers help walkers find their way to the end.

Guests also look for “hidden” signs and get punch cards which, if completed and turned in at the farm stand, yield a prize such as a small pumpkin.

Calhoon added that there are several corn maze companies which give farmers “ready-made” versions but he prefers the challenge of designing his own.

“I like to tell the other artists in the valley that this is my monument,” he joked. “But it’s also pretty transitory.”

Last year, around 10,000 people visited the maze at the South 47, mostly from the Eastside and Seattle. Calhoon acknowledged that there are other mazes up north in Snohomish County and down south near Puyallup, but even some folks who frequent those mazes also make a trip to Redmond because it’s good, clean, seasonal fun.

Speaking of keeping it clean, Calhoon urges people to take advantage of the September weather, when the corn is still green and the paths are usually dry. Many wait until October, as a precursor to Halloween. The South 47 then puts straw down on muddy paths, but “some people come out in boots and rain gear and really like it, and it’s a very different experience at night, when we stay open late for Flashlight Maze Nights,” he commented.

Also, in case you’re planning to visit with a (sturdy) stroller or wheelchair, be advised that paths are generally wide enough to accommodate them but wet, muddy conditions could make them more difficult to traverse.

The entrance to the South 47 Farm is on Northeast 124th Street, just west of Woodinville-Redmond Road. For farm hours and Corn Maze admission prices, visit or call (425) 869-9777.