The Maze of Maize

by Jake Bragonier, Fresno State Media Relations

Corn has been around over 8,000 years. It has been reported that corn has 3,500 uses.

Make that 3,501 uses.

On Sept. 15, the Bulldog Cornfield Maize opened its door to those who wished to dare solve it. A human labyrinth carved into a seven-acre field of 10-foot corn, is located in Fresno just off Highway 41 at Avenue 10 - near Valley Children's Hospital.

Designed to challenge the wits of those attempting to find the one - and only - exit, the maze consists of more than two-and-a-half miles of twists, turns and dead-ends. The maze is designed in the shape of the Fresno State bulldog with the words "GO DOGS" carved into the field of green and gold. On average, maze-goers will wander for more than an hour.

Use of the land was donated by Richard Gunner out of his desire to provide Fresno-area families with a wholesome, family-oriented activity. The maze is operated by Larry Harvison and Darren Schmall, who are Fresno/Madera-area farmers. Harvison has successfully operated other maze designs in Fresno for the last two years. Over 25,000 San Joaquin Valley families visited Harvison's mazes in 1998 and '99.

Schmall is a local grape grower and agri-businessman. He is best known for his Pizza Farm, an agriculture education program which teaches children about how their favorite food originates down on the farm. Schmall, a graduate of Fresno State, chose the Bulldog design as a way to promote the university, San Joaquin Valley agriculture and to provide a positive image of the community.

Fresno's cornfield maze is actually one of 60 maze sites in operation across the United States and Canada this year. The creation of BYU agri-business graduate Brent Herbst, the idea began when Herbst introduced the largest corn maze created in the western United States to America Fork, Utah, in 1996. With the first attempt attracting over 18,000 visitors in just three weeks, the venture has now challenged more than 650,000 maze goers around the world.

This year, maze sites are scattered across 29 different U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Some western sites include Lehi, Utah, Logan, Utah, Meridian, Idaho, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Billings, Mont., Pasco, Wash., Woodland, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz. (2). Combined attendance is expected to total more than 350,000.

The maze will be operational from Sept. 15 through Nov. 5. It is open from 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-10 p.m. on Sundays. The maze is closed on Mondays and is open only to schools on Tuesdays. Cost is $7 for adults (12 and older), $5 for children (5 to 11) and free to those 4-years-old and younger. Group discounts of $1 are available. Discount coupons are also available at the following locations: Pizza Hut, Save Mart Supermarkets, Halloween Superstores, The Bulldog Shop and Blue Ribbon Car Wash.

In support of agriculture education, the Bulldog Cornfield Maize has created an elementary education campaign that includes customized "Ag-In-The-Classroom" lesson plans and activity sheets for teachers, on-site displays and guided tours and passports, or clue cards, that integrate education into the maze experience and helps guide children and their families along the correct path.

More information about the cornmaze is available by phoning (800) 557-1222 or on the Internet at



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