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Agritourism businesses push on despite soggy fall season
Like traditional farms, corn mazes are beholden to weather
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Tina Beggs, vice president of Buford Corn Maze, points out trails within the maze that have turned to mush during the rains. The maze has had more rainout days this year than it has had any other year in its seven years of business. - photo by Erin O. Smith

It’s been a tough season for agritourism, but Jaemor Farms owner Drew Echols says there’s not much to be done.

“When you’re in ag, you’re always at the mercy of the weather,” Echols said. “And, you just move on, man.”

He and other owners of local agritourism businesses have had little else to do but shrug their shoulders as record amounts of rainfall have made an impact on the mostly outdoor activities that are typical for the season. But despite the weather, business actually hasn’t been that bad, Echols said.

Buford Corn Maze owner Rodney Miller agreed.

“Boy, it’s been tough overall,” Miller said, “but in fairness, people who didn’t come out on the days when it rained, they came back on the few days we had when it was sunny, so it evened out.”

Still, he said, he has to wonder how good the year would have been with a little more sunshine.

Meteorologist Mike Leary with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said November has had about 4 more inches of rain that what is typical for this time of year. He attributes the unseasonably wet weather to El Niño, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.

Miller said Buford Corn Maze has had “twice as many rainouts this year as we’ve ever had, and we’ve been open for seven years. And, even on the days we’re open, it’s been overcast and crummy. I think we might have had one good, beautiful weekend this season.”

But when you get into this business, he said, you recognize the weather’s hold on your economic livelihood.

“It’s a big risk,” Miller said. “You know that going in.”

“(This business) is just like any other kind of farming,” Echols said. “It don’t matter if it’s a corn maze or U-pick strawberries or whatever ... you are always at the mercy of the weather.”

Jaemor Farms is at 5340 Cornelia Hwy, Alto. Buford Corn Maze is at 4470 Bennett Road, Buford.