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Get Lost in the Corn
The making of a maze
September 8, 2022

O
n highway 55, there’s four acres of corn growing over 12 ft high. It wasn’t planted for harvesting.

It’s the only corn stand in Pamlico County, explained Nicole Riggs – most farmers are afraid a hurricane could wipe out a crop planted this late in the season. To be fair, Nicole and her husband Stephen Riggs are worried about the hurricanes, too. One good storm could wipe out their corn. And the maze inside it.

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At the start of a 1/2 mile walk – if you don’t get lost.

Nicole and Stephen bought their Highway 55 property several years ago. “We’ve always been advocates for open spaces and agriculture,” Nicole said. But their corn was meant to serve a different purpose: entertainment.

“Why wouldn’t we do this?” Nicole said. But there was a hitch – Nicole and Stephen are originally from Vermont. “Southern farming is different from northern farming,” she said. The couple sought the help of neighbors Al and Andrew Spruill to learn more about how to plant corn in Eastern North Carolina.

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Nicole Riggs talks about the dragons and other items she’s created for the maze. More than one dragon hides in the maze.
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A view into one of the ‘rooms’ along the path.

There’s the matter of designing the maze as well. It’s one thing to plat rows of corn, it’s another to figure out where you’re going mow it down. For that task, the Riggs sought the services of Wayne Batten.

Nicole refers to him as the ‘Maze Architect’; Wayne retired from the NC Department of Agriculture and this is not his first maze. “You tell him what you want [in the maze] and he makes it fit,” said Nicole.

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A bouquet on the way to the entrance. The maze is off to the right, beyond the growing soy.
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Paul Sykes talks with Nicole Riggs about the items still left to complete.

The maze opens Friday, September 9 and will remain open on weekends through the end of October. The Riggs have several events planned including a wine sip n’ stroll, guided tours, a pumpkin lighting event, a game to find your way out, and a game to get lost and visit every part of the maze.

The last weekend in October is reserved specifically for nighttime maze walks. Patrons will get a flashlight… and nothing else.

There will be no lights inside the maze.

There’s a good reason the nighttime events are not through September and October: Batten told the couple “people get very scared and will run through the maze [walls] and knock it down.” The corn can only take one weekend of that before it’s gone for good.

“It’s a 1/2 mile walk, if you don’t get lost,” said Nicole. For those that can’t find the exit, Nicole and Stephen will lead them out.

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An overhead view – without giving it away.

“If it’s a success,” said Nicole, “we’ll double the size next year to about eight acres.” She talked about adding bridges and other structures in the maze, as well as other events and and hidden items in the small rooms cut into the corn.

Their biggest concerns right now: hurricane season and if their maze will draw any attention. They’ll find out Friday, September 9 at noon when the maze officially opens. From then until October 31, the maze is open Friday, noon to dusk, Saturday, 10a to dusk, and Sunday, noon to dusk.

General admission is $10. The Halloween weekend night maze is $15. Find the maze at 22327 Highway 55 near Oriental.

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Into the maze.

Posted Thursday September 8, 2022 by Allison DeWeese


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