The fall corn crop at the Burden Center on Essen Lane is just about head-high, with tasseled sweet corn on one side of the road for roasting and field corn — often used for animal feed — on the other. This is where, in a little more than a week, the empty field will fill with families searching for the way out.
The Corn Maze at Burden will open its 2014 run Sept. 27 and 28, in conjunction with the LSU Rural Life Museum’s Harvest Days, said Michelle Fuller with the Burden Center, and the nonprofit neighbors will each host separate events for the weekend, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
The Rural Life Museum will hold Living History demonstrations of harvest-time necessities for life on the farm 200 years ago. Activities will include cooking, soap making, wood working and many hands on activities in which the general public can participate, according to Elizabeth McInnis with the museum.
Just across the field, Burden will offer its popular maze, which this year is shaped like a tiger, complete with a hay mountain in the center of the maze.
“You have to get to the mountain in order to get out of the maze, so if you make it out, you’ll see it,” said Keith Lewis, research associate and resident corn maze carver at Burden.
The key to carving a great maze out of a field of corn, he said, is planning. That, and a little trial-and-error.
“We planted August third, and cut the paths out with a ZTR lawnmower when the corn stalks were about a foot high,” Lewis said. He and Burden employee Madison Banta walked the field with a GPS unit and mapped out 650 different points from the 3.7-acre plot to outline the paths and the letters. “We learned after the first year not to wait until the corn was fully mature to do that part. It’s much more difficult, cutting and plotting,” Lewis said, laughing.
He got the plans from the Internet, he said, and Banta gives the paths a haircut every couple of weeks to maintain them.
Also, Lewis said, the maze corn is genetically modified to resist insects, so no pesticides are used.
“It’s fun to build, and kids really love it,” Lewis said.
Other activities planned for the Corn Maze opening weekend include the tennis ball slingshots, pumpkin painting, a petting zoo and roasted corn ears, popcorn and corndogs.
Admission for the Burden Center events, including the Corn Maze, is $7 for adults.
Admission for the Harvest Days at Rural Life is $8 for children 6 to 11, adults 62 and older, and LSU and Southern students. Ages 12 to 61 are $9 each, and children 5 and younger are admitted free to both events.
The Maze will also be open Oct. 4, 11 and 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., when admission will decrease to $5, with children 3 and younger free, and 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25, concluding with a $10 per person night maze and bonfire that will include hot dogs, s’mores and live music. Children 3 and younger will also get in free for that event.
Both the Burden Center and the Rural Life Museum are just off Interstate 10 at 4560 Essen Lane.
For more information about the Corn Maze weekend, or operation in October, call the Burden Center at (225) 763-3990. For more information about Harvest Days, call the museum at (225) 765-2437.