Fun for a good cause at Eliada Corn Maze

By Catherine Hunter –

It has become one of the largest Halloween events in Western North Carolina with people traveling as far as from Winston Salem to enjoy. The Eliada Home Corn Maze is celebrating its fourth year raising funds to help Western North Carolina’s at risk youth.

Corn Maze manager and Eliada Home Certified NYPUM (National Youth Program Using Mini Bikes) Instructor Nate Simons said they have three separate mazes covering four or more acres.

“This year we have a NYPUM course theme for the main maze,” said Simmons who explained they have three different mazes.

The smaller maze has an anti-bullying theme told through the story of Spookly the Square Pumpkin, and the hale bale maze provides a scavenger hunt for small children. In addition to the mazes, other attractions include a jack-o-lantern hay ride, cow theme tractor rides, a slide, a bean bag toss, a spider web climb and air forced corn cob cannons.

According to Simmons, the maze is open September 7 through the last weekend of October. They get more and more people attending each weekend with as many as 2500 to 3000 this past weekend. He said the event appeals to all ages from elementary children to young couples who stroll through the maze on dates. They also get many groups attending such as other therapy organizations, boy scouts, college groups or school field trips.

Simmons credits Eliada Home’s Maintenance Director Kyle Barrett with the original idea and the improvements they add each year. He said that is takes eight paid staff and 20 volunteers working different shifts to run the event smoothly.

To create the maze, Eliada plants a dense crop in special ways which Simmons said was different from how farmers typically plant corn. He said they then have a corn maze specialist, who uses a GPS, mow out the designed pattern. Once the event is over, Eliada harvests the crop for silage (animal feed).

The corn maze has become Eliada Home’s largest fund raiser. The Home was started in the early 1900’s to house unwed mothers. It soon became an orphanage and is now a residential therapeutic institute for children with social challenges such as psychological disorders, severe ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome and other problems.

Eliada’s enhanced services include dirt bike racing and an equine assisted therapy program. The also have a gym, a recreation center, a day care program and an after school program which are open to the public.

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