Contrary to popular belief, corn mazes at festive autumn pumpkin patches aren't always made to get lost in.

"We've actually never had anyone get lost in our corn maze," said Kyla Vala Shaver of the Vala family, owners of Vala's Pumpkin Patch in Gretna.

Vala's corn maze is several acres large, with stalks about 15 feet high, Vala Shaver said. It features bridges visitors can walk across for an aerial view and activities within the maze walls.

"It's a pretty popular attraction," Vala Shaver said. "The kids love going through it. People would definitely be mad if we got rid of it."

At Roca Berry Farm in Roca, manager Jordan Schaefer said its corn maze was adjusted in recent years to be more family friendly.

"We used to have a big maze, but it wasn't really for little kids," he said. "They'd spend an hour and a half in the maze when there's so much else to do."

They added multiple exits to the self-guided maze and made it smaller, Schaefer said. The only safety concern they have is mud after rain.

"There's been 11 rainy days so far in the season and it's just been the muddiest," he said. "We try to make it as safe as possible to get in and out, but if someone slips and falls, it could be an issue."

Both Roca Berry and Vala's had its mazes designed by The Maize Group, a Utah-based cornfield maze consulting and design company.

The pumpkin patch owners provide the company with a general concept plan of what they'd like the maze to look like. Sometimes, this includes a theme or pattern, like when Roca Berry did "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" as a theme last year.

The Maize Group's team then constructs the maze in a cornfield by using a spray to kill cornstalks into the path of the maze.

Though The Maize Group's website claims that they've "seen millions of people get lost in the mazes," the sentiment isn't true for either of the mazes they designed in Roca and Gretna.

"We don't really make it hard," Schaefer said. "We want it to be safe and just another thing people can enjoy here."

Dozens of families go in and out of the corn maze every day during Roca Berry's fall season.

Nine year-old Sidney Hilsabeck and her family went to Roca Berry on Sunday morning.

Sidney said she loved the maze. 

"I went through different loops and sometimes got on the same path," she said. "It was kind of difficult, but it was fun for me."

The Hilsabeck family took 10 minutes to complete the maze.

For parents with younger children, it takes a little bit longer.

Tricia and Preston Forney, of Fairbury, let their sons Leeam, 4, and Leevi, 1, guide them through the maze.

"It's a pretty easy maze, but with the boys leading the way, they just goof off a lot," Preston said.

The Forneys come to Roca Berry every year.

"It's something we can all do together," she said. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or hmuslic@journalstar.com.

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