How Corn Mazes Are Built

Oct 28, 2019

We wanted to answer a seemingly simple question: how are corn mazes built?

KUNC's Colorado Edition spoke with a corn maze designer, and a local farmer who has hosted corn mazes each fall at his farm for decades, to find out. 

Brett Herbst is owner of the corn maze design company, "The Maize."

And Glen Fritzler is the owner of Fritzler Farm Park in LaSalle, right outside of Greeley. Every autumn, hundreds of visitors show up to play zombie paintball, shoot pumpkins out of cannons, and run from chainsaw-wielding zombies as they make their way through the giant haunted corn maze known as Scream Acres. 

One of Brett Herbst's favorite maze designs.
Credit The Maize

Brett Herbst Interview Highlights

These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Erin O'Toole: Can you walk us through the process of designing a corn maze? 

Brett Herbst: We get all the coordinates and the size of the field, exact shape, and then we plot that on our computer, and then we get what design ideas that they're wanting, such as what theme they want. And then we'll start plotting all of that into the computer and come up with a layout, then when we get that layout we send them the rough draft of the layout, then from that point we just go back and forth, finalize the layout, then we start to maze-ify, where we turn this themed layout into an actual navigable maze. Where people can not just hit a dead end and there's no way out, but makes it so that it's challenging and navigates them through the majority part of the maze, and eventually find the exit. 

What advice do you have for people going out into corn mazes? 

Don't overthink it, don't second guess yourself, don't play follow the leader. Follow your instincts and really just have fun. These mazes aren't designed to lose you forever, and you're going to have to eat corn for weeks at a time... there's always a way out, and so just enjoy the challenge while you're in there.

This year's maze design at Fritzler Farm Park in LaSalle.
Credit Fritzler Farm Park

Glen Fritzler Interview Highlights

These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

How do you construct a corn maze?

Glen Fritzler: Just immediately, when you're done with a season, you start thinking about the next season. What's popular in the world and in Colorado. We start looking at next year's design. We go to conferences to figure out what other corn mazes are doing that's new and exciting. 

So you have the design, when do you actually start to cut it?

In late winter, early spring. By that time we hopefully settled on a design. Then we email back and forth with the maze designer. They take our vision and turn it into a corn maze. Then once that's completed, we plant the corn maze generally in late May, and then cut the design out from ground maps in early June. 

What do you think is the magical element of corn mazes?

It seems to be very appealing, and growing. At night time it's the perfect environment to scare people, the rustling of the corn, and it just has that perfect atmosphere. In the daytime, watching the families go in there, and the kids take off and try to lead their parents through. "No, no come this way, no, no, let's go that way." And it's a lot of fun, very rewarding. 

The corn maze at Fritzler Farm Park is open through Nov. 2. 

This conversation is part of KUNC's Colorado Edition for Oct. 28. Listen to the full episode here