'The Maize' marks 11th anniversary
It started as a way to diversify and plan a future for their kids.
Eleven years later, it is an area fall attraction that entices thousands to visit every year.
Randy Rausch and his wife, Jayne, run the Maize at Little Darby Creek on Axe-Handle Road near Milford Center.
The 125-acre farm used to be a dairy farm known as Hickory Plains Farm, a registered Holstein dairy. In 2002, the family started a corn maze as an extension of the dairy. Four years later, the family offered 'you-pick' red and black raspberries to add variety for visitors to the farm.
The family also runs a kettle corn business.
Every year, the maze takes on a different shape, such as a tribute to Lebron James, Jack Hanna, or OSU gridiron legends.
"We usually just try to figure out something that the community would recognize," Rausch said. "This year, we got a call from the Girl Scouts to see if we would be interested in doing one with their theme in it and they would help advertise it."
So this year, the farm pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts with its maze design.
The Rausches do not create the mazes. They hire a company called The Maize to do that.
The company has six other corn maze locations in Ohio and many others across the country.
Farms that use The Maize are not supposed to reveal how they create the field art, but Rausch said what would take his family a week to do, The Maize does in hours.
"There's a lot of different ways you can do it. You can use the GPS or you can count rows," he said.
Once the maze is closed for the season, they can still harvest the corn, Rausch added.
The Maize at Little Darby Creek opened Sept. 15 and closes Oct. 28. It is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Base admission is $8 but combo packages are also available.
From time to time, visitors get lost in the maze, but participants have a phone number to call for help. "Corn Cops" are dispatched to retrieve those who get lost.
"We have people that work out there and their job is to help people through," Rausch said.
He does not have an exact count of how many come to visit, said a ballpark estimate is about 20,000 a year.
Other attractions at the farm include a petting zoo, cornball slide, laser tag and -- new this year -- a pumpkin cannon and a kiddie maze
While the Rausches try to keep things family-friendly on the farm, they also offer a haunted maze that reels in the teenagers.
"It comes through the cornfield, then back through an old bunker silo we used to use when we milked cows, so we have a school bus and some things in there," he said. "Then you weave around and go through the back of a barn."
The Field of Fright is open Friday and Saturday nights starting Oct. 5.
"Every year, we try to add new stuff," Rausch said. "We try to keep expanding for younger to older so there's something for everyone."