Being corny isn’t always bad – ask Fifer Orchards. Thanks to their impressive corn-maze design, the Camden-Wyoming farm landed a partnership with Peanuts Worldwide, the company operating the “Peanuts” comic strip.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” TV special. To celebrate the milestone, Peanuts Worldwide selected 80-plus corn mazes across the country to feature a “Peanuts” theme in their corn stalks. Fifer was one of them.
“We were excited when the opportunity arose to work with the Peanuts company,” said Michael Fennemore, retail manager for Fifer.
“We know ‘The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ is such an iconic and nostalgic fall movie that’s special for so many folks and thought it was a neat gesture by the Peanuts company to incorporate family farms,” he added.
Fifer’s crop circle depicts iconic “Peanuts” characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
“Snoopy is my favorite character,” Fennemore said. “I always remembered the red baron and him flying on top of the dog house. It’s one of my fondest memories.”
The public can explore the farm’s 6-acre corn maze through Oct. 31. It’s open Monday through Sunday.
The Camden farm has been producing corn mazes over the last decade. This year marks their 12th. Fifer’s first step in creating a maze begins in March or April when they choose their theme.
Last year’s design involved state icons of Delaware. This included the state’s flower, bird and state tree. Prior to that, they did a Delmarva railroad theme.
“Once we have the theme, we can begin to fine-tune the images that we want to see in the maze design, along with making it maze-like and challenging,” Fennemore said.
The next step is planting the corn.
“We usually plant the corn maze field around July 4th. The field is planted in two directions: north-south, then east-west,” he said. ”This provides a nice, dense corn field for the maze. After about 10 to 14 days, the corn is around 6 inches tall.”
At this point, Fifer’s team tries to “triangulate the center lines using surveying techniques and cut out the pathways for the maze,” Fennemore explained, adding they determine the coordinates of their crop circles manually, not with the help of GPS.
The remaining corn grows quickly and produces the image of what the maze looks like now.
Getting the opportunity
Fifer sent Peanuts Worldwide an application in February to have their corn maze considered for its 50th anniversary.
Enjoying their proposed design, Peanuts added the Camden farm onto their “Great Pumpkin” project in March.
Jessica Yocum, Fifer’s events coordinator, is proud their corn maze is the only one in the First State to be accepted. “It’s cool we’re the corn maze for the state of Delaware,” Yocum said.
The magic of mazes
This season’s “Peanuts” corn maze is only one piece, albeit the largest, of Fifer’s fall season, which kicked off on Sept. 24. Guests will experience straw slides, Bee Line swings, tire tumblers, duck races and more, Monday through Friday.
On Saturdays only, there will be live music, hayrides, pony and train rides, face painting, animal exhibit and more.
But the center of attention is the corn maze.
“Corn mazes are unique because they give families and school groups something to do,” Yocum said. “It’s an activity that’s educational and everyone can come together.”
With visits from preschoolers to college students and senior groups, the farm steadily hosts tours of folks exploring the maze six days out of the week during the fall, except on Columbus Day.
Navigating through corn mazes involves team building as “you’re going to communicate with each other to make sure you’re not going to go to the same station again,” Yocum said.
Fifer’s maze has six different stations and it takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour to find your way out.
“There’s something interesting and unknown about a maze and being lost,” Fennemore said, “and the unknown of going around the corner and thinking, ‘Am I going the right way?’”