If you're looking for a fun way to kick off the fall season with your family, look no further than the Hood Swamp Corn Maze.
Located at 608 Hood Swamp Road, the maze is owned by farmers Jeff and Shawn Parks, who operate it on their farm. Visitors are taken through the working farm to a four-acre field -- nearly a mile long -- which contains the maze.
Jeff Parks said that he got the idea to start a corn maze from fellow farmer and childhood friend E.L. Smith.
"E.L. mentioned to me that they'd had one and had some success with it," he said. "A produce stand requires a lot of labor, but this was something I could add to my operation that wasn't quite so labor intensive."
Shawn Parks said that the maze is a way to help bolster the family business.
"Farmers are having to diversify because corn and soybeans don't always pay the bills," she said. "We need the cash flow, which is something we're not used to because we normally only get paid once or twice a year when that crop comes in."
Beyond simply providing cash, however, the maze is a way for the Parkses to reach out and interact with their community. Jeff Parks is a Wayne County native, and being a part of the community is important to him, he said.
"It's been great to have so much community support," he said. "Seeing friends, making some new friends and also seeing family I haven't seen in a right while."
The Parks family constructed the maze earlier this year, with the help of Wayne County Cooperative Extension director Kevin Johnson. After planting his field normally, Jeff Parks used a zero-turn lawn mower to cut the maze pattern into the field while the corn was around knee height.
Shawn Parks said that the maze has been successful since it opened in September.
"It was slow for the first few weeks, and especially during the fair, which we expected going in," she said. "But it started to get going, and it's been growing every weekend."
Jeff Parks gave special thanks to J.R. Odom of Rosewood, who he said was instrumental in getting the project rolling.
"After E.L. gave me the idea, J.R. has given me the most advice and helped me to get it figured out," he said.
Visitors can enjoy the maze for $7, though those ages 5 years and younger get in for free. For $10, you can add a hayride to the experience. Church groups can take advantage of special pricing to get their members in for $5 apiece.
608 Hood Swamp Road
Friday and Saturday
4 to 9 p.m.
7 to 9 p.m.
(Participants bring their own glow sticks or flashlights)