Located on N.C. Highway 421 between Clinton and Dunn, maze founders John and Tammy Peterson have teamed up with a host of sponsors including the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, that will feature three zoo animal themed corn mazes. In its inaugural year last year, the Peterson’s had the pirate sailing ship called the “Jolly Roger.”
“We pretty much hit our goals last year,” John said. “We nearly broke even. The only reason that we didn’t was the price of corn — it fell before we could get it picked. But overall, we were pretty pleased with the first year, and we our goals are bigger this year.”
Another issue that the Peterson’s had to deal with in their first year with the maze, was Hurricane Hannah.
“Wind damage (from Hannah) made it easier to get off your trail last year,” said John. “We used nearly two miles of caution tape last year, because people would get confused because you could see some of the markers.”
“We had substantial wind damage last year before we opened,” said Tammy. “But you know what, we did not have a soul that complained about it. Because once you get out there and start looking for your checkpoints, you don’t really think about any of it.”
With the corn up to about 10 ft. this year, the maze is more difficult.
“We are really excited about it this year,” said John. “It is going to be tougher than last year. With last year’s wind damage, you could see other checkpoints. This year, you can’t.”
Last year’s maze spread over about 8 and 1/2 acres; this year, it is a little over 12 acres, with a mind-numbing 4.5 miles of trails.
“The corn was planted back in June,” said Tammy. “The problem was this year most of the farmers were busy at the time we needed to plant, but we were lucky enough to find Cody Smith, who modified his tractor to plant four rows, and he did a wonderful job.”
But with a dry June, neighbors began to wonder if the maze would be ready for its Sept. 19 opening day.
“Up until the rains in July, we were wondering,” said John, half-joking. “Everyone would say, is that going to grow?”
“Mother Nature came through for us,” added Tammy.
The trails feature animals from the North Carolina Zoo, created with precision by Shawn Stolworthy of Maze Play Inc., who used global positioning software to cut custom images into the field.
“I have lived in North Carolina 47 years, and I had never been to the zoo,” said John. “Then back in March, we were looking for something to do, and Tammy said ‘let’s go to the zoo.’ I had never been, but it was a great time, and it was really impressive.”
“It was a nice family outing,” said Tammy. “I hadn’t been since I was in elementary school, and when I got there, I was just like ‘wow.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
“When we got back, we didn’t have a master sponsor for the maze yet or a design planned out,” John said. “So we were looking at some of the design that Maze Play had done, and I came across one from the Kansas City Zoo. I went to Tammy and asked her if she thought the zoo would be interested in getting involved. She thought it was a great idea.”
After weeks of leaving messages to the zoo, the phone rang out of the blue.
“The contact person had apologized for not returning the call right away,” remembers John. “And she said right away that they would be interested in getting involved.”
A meeting was set up in Asheboro and the rest is history.
“We went back (to the zoo) in April, and they said they wanted to be part of it,” John said. “They have been wonderful too. They designed the billboard for us and have given us a lot of promotion. Once we got the go ahead, we had to get the design from Maze Play. The zoo wanted to do an African Animal maze, because the zoo had added two baby giraffes this year, and they wanted to celebrate that.”
In addition to the giraffes, there is also a lion that sits on top of the words: NC Zoo Asheboro.
There is something for everyone, says the couple, exactly the way they envisioned it when the idea came up.
“Tammy and I both worked at Ezzell Trucking together, and we decided to get into real estate business buying houses,” said John. “She left first, and I left about nine months later, and we did real estate. But with the economy and the way everything was (last year), we were thinking ‘what else can we do’? We had two or three options and one was paintball, but we wanted something that was geared more to families. We can’t say who thought of the idea of a corn maze first, but we all knew it would be a good idea.”
The couple, who also operate a finishing hog farm contracted with Murphy-Brown, will run Hubbs Corn Maze from Sept. 19 through Nov. 8.
The maze is named for Tammy’s late father, James Hubbard Butler. “I used to work at a previous seafood business named Zora’s Seafood Market, Incorporated,” said John. “I told her whatever we name it, make it short (laughs). She mentioned her dad’s nickname, which was ‘Hubb’ and I thought that would be perfect.”
After last year’s success, they knew this year would have to be better for the families who come. The old favorites from last year will still be in place — The Haunted Corn Trail; Kiddie Pony Rides and prize giveaways. But there will also be barrel train rides for all ages, hay rides and and a new Sudoku maze — a difficult one that can win you a Wii — and an easier one for the kids.
Not to mention the drawings that could win you a host of prizes, that include 12 Carolina Hurricane tickets, Piggly Wiggly gift cards, dinner for four at Ribeye’s Steakhouse, N.C. State tickets to three games, Rush Hour Karting Tickets and a Wii from Woodmen of the World.
“When you complete the maze, we have a sheet you fill out, and if you have all the punches correct, you put your name in a box,” said John. “We will have a drawing every week, and then at the end of the year, we will have our grand prize drawing that will be a complete getaway to the zoo.”
In addition to concessions, there is also a small hay bale maze for the youngsters.
And on Friday and Saturday nights in October, the Haunted Corn Trail is sure to bring fear to those who wish to be frightened.
“Each weekend is a different non-profit organization that will be here and get a 50/50 split,” said John. “The Herring Volunteer Fire Department, Sampson County Sheriff’s Office and Sampson County Relay For Life will all be out there doing the Haunted Trail.”
“It is an opportunity for people to come out and have a new experience and a new scare,” said Tammy, who notes that the trail is separate than the regular maze to prevent the youngsters from getting scared. “We switched it this year, so that it is not closer,” she said. “It is in the upper part of the maze this year, so there is no way that any scares will get to the regular maze. We wanted to prevent any bleed over.”
The maze will open on Sept. 19 and run through Nov. 8. On Friday’s, the hours are from 6-10 p.m.; on Saturday’s the hours are from 1-11 p.m.; and on Sunday’s from 1-6 p.m.
“There are two things that you should bring if you plan on coming out,” said John. “Although we rent some flashlights, we don’t have a lot, so you can bring them. You should bring some bug repellent as well.”
The Peterson’s are also looking into special hours for corporate team building within the maze, if businesses are interested.
For more information on the maze click on to www.hubbscornmaze.com or call 910-564-6709.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or send e-mail to email@example.com.