Fall fun attractions yield economic benefits for farms and counties
By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Sept. 8, 2017
- University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Lonoke County Staff Chair Keith Perkins helps farms around Arkansas build corn mazes using GPS technology.
- Corn mazes and other agritourism attractions bring in millions in revenue in Arkansas.
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LONOKE, Ark. – It seems like fun in one of its simplest forms: you make turn after turn trying to navigate the winding path of the corn maze.
As the stalks of corn tower over you, you’re unaware of the intricate design that you’re wandering through or the planning and technology that goes into it.
Keith Perkins, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Lonoke County Staff Chair, has been helping farms around Arkansas build corn mazes using GPS technology. One of these farms is Hicks Family Farm in Lonoke, Arkansas. Perkins has helped the Hicks family create a new design every season for several years.
“This particular corn maze is amazing,” Perkins said.
This year the farm’s owners, Kevin and Rebekah Hicks, are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, this year’s corn maze spells out the words “Better Together” and the couple’s initials.
Creating an elaborate design like this requires a lot of planning.
“You’ve got to start with the growth and development of your corn,” Perkins said.
Corn is planted later in the season, between June 15 and July 15, to ensure the corn stays green for the maze. The corn field is then drawn to scale and the design is copied onto it.
“What you’re doing is creating a picture that can only be seen from the air,” Perkins said.
Perkins then takes the design drawn to scale and superimposes in a GPS unit that maps out the boundaries of the design to be cut out of the corn.
Besides providing entertainment and an excuse for people to get out in nature for a while, corn mazes yield economic benefits for both the farm and the county.
"People come from all over the county and state to visit Hicks family farm, then they spend money at the corn maze and in the county,” Perkins said.
Corn mazes are a form of agritourism. Agritourism is any activity or business that blends elements of agriculture and tourism.
According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, in 2007 there were over ten thousand farms in Arkansas with some sort of agritourism attraction and they grossed $546 million. Those numbers grew in 2012 to over thirteen thousand farms grossing $647 million.
“It gives farmers an opportunity to capitalize on what’s already there at the farm and on the people who want to be outside and get lost in the corn maze,” Perkins said.
To learn more about agritourism in Arkansas, visit https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/agritourism.aspx. For more information about Hicks family farm, visit http://www.hicksfamilyfarms.com/index.html.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service