Family Travel

Kerry Egan

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Children of the corn maze

Posted 10/18/2013 8:00:00 PM

We each sat on our horse at Clinton Sease Farm in Lexington. But unlike the horses from our lesson at Three Fox Farm a few weeks ago, our horses at the "Hop-a-Long Rodeo" were big, blue, rubber cylinders with an inflated plastic horse's head attached to the front. Do you remember those big bouncy balls with a handle on top that you used to bounce on when you were really little? They were like that, but adult-sized.

My son and I were going to race, and I was going to win. (Our family has a competitive streak a mile wide.) But when my husband shouted, "GO!" and I started jumping forward, all bets were off. Right away, I was bouncing around almost uncontrollably. It was like my blue rubber horse had a mind of its own as I careened all over the tiny oval racetrack. With every bounce, a whoop of laughter escaped, and in some sort of bizarre chain reaction, I couldn't stop bouncing and laughing hysterically.

After Jimmy won (but he cheated -- after falling off his horse a dozen times while trying to bounce forward, he picked it up and ran with it) we headed over to the towering tire maze.

Each of us went our own way to try to get to the tower in the center of the maze first. I thought I was doing great, definitely about to find the center, when I heard his voice.

"Run! You're looking weak out there Mom!"

I didn't bother to look up from the unending, curving walls of black rubber surrounding me to see where the voice came from. He'd found his way to the middle first and was going to heckle me now that he'd won our little race.

"Show some hustle Egan!" Apparently my husband found his way before me, too. So I began to run faster, laughing harder, getting more and more lost and confused.

The tire maze, a round labyrinth of old tires stacked in piles six feet high and pushed next to each other to make the walls, is just one of the great mazes at Clinton Sease Farm this fall. The big draw at the farm for families with young children is, of course, is the huge corn maze. (For teenagers, I imagine that the real excitement might be Clinton Sease's "Deceased Farm," an elaborate haunted house. We didn't venture in there this trip. Check back with me in five or six years though…)

The theme of this year's maze is Deep Sea Adventure, and the winding and twisting paths carved into the 8-acre corn field create a whale, shark, octopus and sea turtle. The corn in the maze this fall isn't very thick because of the heavy rain this summer. But the farm's response has made the maze even more amazing. Three rows of brightly colored plastic tape, as tall as my shoulders, are stretched between stakes along the path to demarcate the maze. It's dizzying in the best way, like an optical illusion, when you can see rows and rows of paths through the corn that you'll eventually be wandering down as you try to find your way.

And don't worry about getting lost forever. You can pick up a colorful flag on a big stick before you enter the maze, and then wave it around if you need help. Or, if you're a charismatic nine-year-old, you can also march around with that flag and declare yourself king of the corn, or the tires, or the hay bales, or anything else at the farm, and then find a pack of smaller kids following you around like the Pied Piper.

If you do wave the flag for help, some hilarious boys on lookout duty will help guide you to the next correct turn you have make. Even if you don't ask for help, they'll tease you and make jokes through their megaphones. If you aren't already laughing from being utterly lost, you'll start laughing at their running commentary on your (and everybody else's) progress.

Finally, after a long time in the corn and ribbons, we were at the final long straightaway and escaped. It took us more an hour, one of the teenage boys gleefully announced over the megaphone at our moment of triumph.

We weren't even close to finished with all the fun stuff to do at this point. There were rubber duck races, each little duck in his trough powered by each person furiously pumping away on an old-fashioned water pump. There's pumpkin bowling. There's cornhole and tricycle racing and a big sandbox full of dried corn kernels. There's an enormous, two-story tall black tube slide that makes a weird vibrating roar when you go down it and makes you feel like you're in a sci-fi movie, flying through some sort of vortex to the white light at the end of the dark tunnel. And these are just my favorite things. There's a ton of other games and activities too, all of it equally fun for kids and adults. And we didn't even know about the flashlights: if you bring a flashlight on weekend nights, you can attempt the corn maze in the dark.

I just about laughed my head off that afternoon.

Clinton Sease Farm is located at 404 Olde Farm Road, Lexington. Admission is $10, children 2 and younger are admitted free. For hours, click here.

And if you're in a different part of the state, here's a list of corn mazes, fall festivals and Halloween-themed attractions statewide.