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How fall corn mazes are designed, cut
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A trail leads through the corn maze at Jaemor Farms on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

The world of high tech is making North Georgia’s favorite fall pastime — getting lost — even better.

Corn mazes may feel old fashioned, but there’s plenty of technology wrapped up in getting those intricate designs carved into local fields.

This year’s theme at Jaemor Farms in Alto is “Hometown Heroes,” a maze depicting a police officer, firefighter and emergency medical technician. Uncle Shuck’s maze in Dawsonville features a stork carrying a baby in a blanket along with the Northside Hospital logo, all within an outline of the state of Georgia.

“For the past 13 years, we have been working with a company out of Pennsylvania that specializes in designing corn mazes,” said Caroline Lewallen, marketing coordinator at Jaemor. “Every January, they send us a lookbook to sort through with random maze theme ideas.”

Jaemor Farms Corn Maze

Where: 5340 Cornelia Highway, Alto

When: Through Oct. 28

Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 1 to 7 p.m.

Nov. 3 and 4:

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Price: $10 for ages 13 and older, $9 for ages 3 to 12, free for children younger than 2

More info: Website

Jaemor is open daily through Oct. 28 and closes out the season on Nov. 3 and 4.

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Claire Fox, left, and her brother, Owen, walk through the corn maze at Jaemor Farms on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The Fox family is visiting their grandparents from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. - photo by Austin Steele

Last year, Jaemor chose a train design and named it the Jaemor Express. Lewallen said there are all sorts of designs to choose from such as pirate ships, Noah’s Ark or different sports teams.

“There are 40 to 60 to flip through, and we just try to select something that means a lot to us or that we think families will enjoy,” Lewallen said.

Once the staff at Jaemor decides on the design for the year, the choice is sent back to Maize Quest along with the coordinates of the four corners of the 6-acre plot of corn at Jaemor.

In July, the corn is planted. After visitors have had their fun at the farm, the corn is often harvested and fed to livestock.

“Some years we’ll have someone come gather up the corn that’s still out there when it’s over and use it to feed it to animals,” Lewallen said. “Some years we plow it directly back into the soil.”

Unlike conventional fields, Jaemor doesn’t plant straight rows of corn. Lewallen said the corn is cross-planted, meaning seeds are planted in both directions so the maze grows thicker.

“In August, when it’s about knee high, that company comes down here and mows the design out for us using a GPS,” Lewallen said.

From there, Jaemor simply maintains the maze until it opens in mid-September.

At Uncle Shuck’s, owner and operator Mathew Hughes said he uses MazePlay, a family-run operation out of Indiana he’s been working with for 17 years. Hughes has 12 acres of corn that will be harvested in January, and, as with Jaemor, fed to cattle.

Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze

Where: 4520 Highway 53 E, Dawsonville

October

Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m

Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Through Nov. 18:

Friday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Price: $13

More info: Website

It takes MazePlay about six hours in August to complete Uncle Shuck’s corn maze with a GPS. Hughes said MazePlay uses an enclosed-cab John Deere tractor with a 6-foot tiller, which tills the ground so visitors don’t trip over the stalks.

“He has his own form of GPS, so it’s accurate up to three inches,” Hughes said. “So basically, he’ll drive the perimeter of the field and just set the picture in.”

After that’s done, the next bit of work is taking a machete through the maze and cutting anything hanging in the paths, then taking yellow caution tape around to mark the trail and help deter visitors from cutting through the corn.

“It kind of keeps people in check, really,” Hughes said.

Uncle Shuck’s maze is open every day in October and only on the weekends in November until its last day on Nov. 18.

If you’re close to South Hall, you can catch the Buford Corn Maze this season, which offers a 5-acre maze cut with the WSB logo.

About 25,000 to 30,000 visitors make it out to Jaemor Farms to get lost in the maze each season and 35,000 to 40,000 head out to Uncle Shuck’s. With the weather now cooling down, Lewallen said business is about to get busy.

“As soon as that temperature breaks, typically we see more families wanting to come out and enjoy the weather, take family photos, pick a pumpkin and go through the corn maze,” Lewallen said.

Buford Corn Maze

Where: 4470 Bennett Road, Buford

October

Monday and Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to midnight

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Through Nov. 11:

Friday: 6 to 10 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: Noon to 10 p.m.

Price: $15

More info: Website

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A piece of corn lies on the ground in the corn maze at Jaemor Farms on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele
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