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Simply A-maze-ing! Virginia Dairy Farmers Host 17th Year of Corn Maze

For the last 17 years, the Leonard family has gathered around their kitchen table in June to make one of the most important decisions of the year.

It has nothing to do with adding cows to their Midland, Virginia, dairy farm or defining new job responsibilities.

Instead, they discuss corn mazes and specifically the design they will create that has made their farm – appropriately named Cows-N-Corn – a fall destination for visitors of all ages.

Fittingly, the maze usually represents a dairy/agriculture theme, though the family has made exceptions, such as paying homage to their state’s famous motto – “Virginia Is for Lovers” – in 2008.

This year’s theme is a tribute to the dairy industry’s bold new campaign – Undeniably Dairy – that is designed to reconnect people to farmers such as Jeff and Patty Leonard and their three daughters.

 

The 2017 Cows-N-Corn farm maze. 

Creating mazes for 17 consecutive years is no easy task, especially for dairy farmers who work long days and nights caring for their cows and land to produce nutritious milk. But Patty Leonard said the maze and the people it draws to their dairy make the tough days of farming worthwhile. She figures the farm has hosted about 100,000 visitors since its first maze in 2001.

“This is the fun part,” she said. “This is the bright spot of the year where we get lots of school tours out to the farm and 200 to 400 kids a day are meeting a cow for the first time.”

While the Leonards come up with the creative concept, they turn things over to a company that specializes in cutting the corn into its intended image with precise detail. Leonard said she can’t reveal the company’s technique, other than to say the corn is first cut into a design when it’s about 6 inches high in June. The whole process takes about six hours.

The family will continue to groom the corn as it grows to its final height of around 12 feet. At that point, the farm opens its doors to visitors who spend a day getting lost in the maze while rediscovering agriculture in the process.

“There is something special about this time of year for our family,” Leonard said. “We’re always running around doing last-minute things to get ready and you’d think that after 17 years we’re not stressed, but it’s like getting ready for Christmas or Thanksgiving.”

Still, said Leonard, “It’s all worthwhile, and we can’t wait to see people come to our farm and have some ice cream and meet our cows. We feel we are talking on behalf of all dairy farmers and the work we all do when people come here.”