Building a corn maze is a family affair for Rolling Acres

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siblings run corn maze
Jamie and Melissa Campbell and John and Tina Stainer run Rolling Acres Corn Maze in Leetonia, along with Renee Jackson (not pictured). (Rachel Wagoner photo)

LEETONIA, Ohio — When snow is falling in eastern Ohio, some people are thinking of corn mazes

Making a maze begins months before the first visitors enter the corn field to wind their way around its twists and turns.

Rolling Acres Corn Maze is in its second year just outside of Leetonia. It is run by siblings, Jamie Campbell, Tina Stainer and Renee Jackson and spouses, Melissa Campbell and John Stainer.

Early bird

The maze opened to the public Sept. 13, but work began much earlier.

The family brainstorms ideas in January and February for the maze’s design, which changes each year. The first year it was an agricultural theme, with a barn, silo, tractor and ear of corn.

This year, it’s a Halloween theme, with a haunted house, a ghost, tombstone, jack o’lantern and scarecrow.

John said they need to get preliminary design ideas to their corn maze cutter by March.

Rolling Acres uses Don Watts, who is also known as the “Corn Maze Guy.” Watts lives in eastern Pennsylvania, but he designs and cuts corn mazes all over the East Coast.

They go back and forth tweaking the design until they come up with a final design, ideally by May.

The next step is to get the corn planted. Corn mazes were not exempt from this year’s rough planting season.

The field was planted July 2, about a month late, John said. That was about as late as the field could be planted and still grow tall enough to make the maze work.

Once the corn is between 2- and 4-feet tall, Watts comes to cut the design into the corn field using a zero-turn mower and a GPS.

Then the family has to keep up with the newly-created path, continuing to cut it with push mowers to keep the corn from regrowing, Tina said. They cut it about three times in the first two weeks after the design is cut.

It slows down after that, but they must continue to cut the paths in the 10-12 acre corn field periodically to keep it groomed. The entire family works full time outside the maze, so work to keep up with the maze is done when it fits in.

spooky corn maze seen from above
The 2019 Rolling Acres Corn Maze (submitted photo)

Finding a way

There’s about 3 miles of path in the maze, Tina said. There is one entrance and three emergency exits. John said between 15-20% of people come out the emergency exits to escape the maze.

Otherwise, people can follow a map around the maze and do their best to work their way around the skinny paths through the 10-foot-tall corn stalks.

A horn blows 30 minutes before things shut down at night. Someone goes in to check the maze and the parking lot to ensure everyone made it out OK.

Along with the maze, visitors can take a ride on the zip line, go for a hay ride through the woods and play a number of games throughout the grounds.

Farm connection

The corn maze is operated on family land. Before it was a fall agritourism attraction, the land was leased to a nearby dairy farmer for him to grow corn and hay. It’s still used for that as much as is possible.

The parking lot for the maze is a hay field. Tina said the dairy farmer gets at least two cuttings off it before they need to re-purpose it. And the farmer harvests all the corn in the maze for silage.

“The last day we’re open, that night we take everything out. Then, the farmer can get in the next day if he wants,” Jamie said.

The corn takes some damage from people wandering through it, but it’s no worse than damage done from raccoons and deer, Jamie said.

Last year, the wet and windy autumn soaked and blew down a lot of the corn, but this year they are faring much better, Jamie said.

The corn maze is open through Nov. 3. Information on hours, pricing and more can be found at www.rollingacre.com.

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What: Rolling Acres Corn Maze

Where: 1184 Lisbon Canfield Road, Leetonia

When: 5 p.m. to midnight Fridays

11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays

Last tickets are sold two hours prior to closing. The last day is Nov. 3

Cost: $10 includes corn maze, hay ride and a ride on the zip line. Children ages 3 and under are free.

More info: www.rollingacre.com or call 330-322-5951

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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