By Lynn Pruett, Field Reporter, The Farmers’ Pride
Published in the September 20, 2018 issue
KyCorn Note: Devine’s Corn Maze is one of the many corn mazes and agritourism spots that utilize our corn fact signs throughout their mazes.
To call Devine’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch a corn maze and pumpkin patch is an understatement. The wealth of farm activities available at the Devine farm in Mercer County exceeds its modest name. Voted the number five corn maze in the country by USA Today, Devin’s offers hours of outdoor fun during September and October. The season culminates with a haunted maze and a haunted barn on Halloween weekend.
Glenn and Martina Devine have spent their marriage working in agriculture.
“I started with nothing,” Glenn said. He managed to buy their first farm when he was 26. It was a dairy operation begun with 40 milk cows that quickly grew to 120. After some time, he bought a second farm and upped their acreage to 355. He added a tobacco operation and more cows but by 1998 discovered that 150 milking cows were too many to manage.
He and Martina worked 12-hour days. He pulled the corn picker. She ran the chopper. She drove the tractor, packed silage, and set tobacco while he plowed and milked. Together they made it all work.
They continue to be successful because they were determined and wanted to farm for a living, Martina said. That determination has allowed them to be flexible depending on circumstances and markets.
“I wasn’t afraid of nothing,” Glenn said of their path of diversification, risk, innovation and hard work.
In 1998, the James McAfee farmstead came on the market, and although initially it was too expensive, a year later it was divided and the Devines bought 100 acres, including the old stone homestead. They kept milking cows until 2009.
“Milking cows was great for a long time,” Glenn said. “When it went down to $12 per hundred weight, it was too hard to make it work.”
He sold his other two farms and focused on the farm market and corn maze, which has become a spectacular attraction, hosting around 33,000 visitors annually.
Each year his son Jason makes the design for the maze on a computer and uses GPS to guide his lawnmower through the corn Glenn plants late, usually around July 4, so that it is still green in the fall. This year’s complicated design honors Justify, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, as he thunders toward a finish line.
There are three corn mazes, one for kiddies, one for first-timers that takes about 20 minutes to complete, and a challenging 45-minute trek for the fearless and seasoned.
Visitors can ride one of the four wagons Glenn outfitted with high rails and seat backs for safety to the pumpkin patch, where for the price of admission to the farm, one selects a pumpkin to take home. Tractor driver Marshall Thompson notes that weekends in October are particularly popular. He recalls days when he drove non-stop from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and says that some of his favorite rider are the groups of children and adults with disabilities who are both scared and thrilled to be experiencing a wagon ride.
When groups of school children arrive during the week they can jump on giant air-filled “pillows” 25 yards long, pump water for duck races, visit the petting zoo, tumble in human hamster wheels, shoot basketballs, aim baseballs at targets, play cornhole, zip down the giant slide, ride tube swings, clinb Tire Mountain, and sail on a short zipline. For the smallest children, there’s a hay bale maze, tricycles to ride, a jungle gym, and a corn crib with corn on the floor like a sandbox. For those over 8, there’s a safety-certified zipline that starts at 60 ft. above ground, a paintball area, and the haunted maze. There’s a concession stand run by Martina and daughter-in-law Christie and a large covered patio filled with picnic tables.
On opening weekend, Josie Elliott of Perryville celebrated her eighth birthday with a party at Devine’s and was thrilled to get to ride the big zipline for the first time. Lexie Walker and Liam Hendrix of Salvisa enjoyed the hamster wheel and the ziplines.
“We come every year,” said their mother Lindsay. A family from Hustonville gathered pumpkins at the patch, the father wistfully regretting that his older children had grown up and were no longer participating in this fall ritual. By providing memorable farm experiences, the 11-year -old venue has generated a loyal following.
The corn maze and pumpkin patch last two months of the year. In the summer, the Devines have a farm market offering their own corn, green beans, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. They supplement these with cantaloupes, watermelons and peaches. In the spring, they plant. In the winter, Glenn devises and builds new play structures, using farm materials in innovative ways. For instance, the small zipline is made of sliding barn door tracks, rollers and double D barbell handles. The human hamster wheels are large corrugated pipes that run on water pipes.
All in all the Devines have been resourceful, determined, and savvy in their working lives. Choosing the McAfee farm 20 years ago has led to the thriving corn maze and farm market, enterprises that, according to Glenn, depend on, among other things, the perfect location.
For information see http://www.devinescornmaze.com or call 859-613-6900.
If you have a corn maze or an agritourism location in Kentucky, contact us for information regarding educational materials. 800-326-0906.
Looking for a corn maze in Kentucky? Check out these lists: