Richardson Adventure Farm corn maze in Spring Grove opening Sept. 1

After a hot, wet summer, the corn at Richardson Adventure Farm is “as high as an elephant’s eye,” and the famous corn maze will be ready for families to explore Sept. 1.

After putting the finishing touches on the 28-acre maze’s 10 miles of trails, George and Wendy Richardson took the farm’s small plane up and snapped some aerial photos. Seen from the air, the trails cutting through the corn portray a panorama of images celebrating Illinois’ bicentennial.

The lush green rectangular cornfield is sculpted with an intricate network of paths portraying Illinois symbols. The maze design is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River and on the east by Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and Chicago skyscrapers. The state Capitol and Abraham Lincoln fill the center, along with symbols of Illinois agriculture: a barn, silo, tractor, row crops, apple trees and pumpkins.

This is Richardson Farm’s 18th maze. Over the years, maze themes have honored milestones for the Chicago Cubs, “Star Trek,” Chicago Blackhawks, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and even The Beatles. (Imagine 21 football fields arranged in one big rectangle; that’s the size of the maze.) 

The maze has many entry and exit points and no dead ends. Participants have the option to explore a small portion of the trails that comprise the design or the whole thing. Maps are provided and marked with corresponding “checkpoints,” and three wooden “bridges” within the maze serve as viewing platforms.

What’s new this year?

“We’ve added two food trucks,” Wendy Richardson said. “One’s a taco truck, and the other serves wood-fired pizza.”

The trucks supplement the main concession stand, which sells fair food, such as funnel cakes, bratwurst, hot dogs, corn dogs, hamburgers and beverages.

The Dairy Depot dishes up ice cream, and the gift shop sells homemade kettle corn, fudge and doughnuts. Also new is a second picnic pavilion and additional modern restrooms.

Richardson Farm has been in the family since 1840, and the family planted its first corn maze in 2001.

Over the years, it has become an annual destination for family fun, with a huge maze that’s different every year, plus more than 30 activities, including wagon rides, pig races, a vintage carousel and a “park train” that runs on real tracks.

Most of the activities are included in the admission fee. Only a few, such as the zip line and zorbing, cost extra. Private picnic sites with campfires and firewood are available by reservation, and there’s plenty of free parking.

Richardson Farm is at 909 English Prairie Road near Spring Grove. For information, visit www.RichardsonAdventureFarm.com or call 815-675-9729.

Open dates and times

Richardson Adventure Farm is open Thursdays through Sundays from Sept. 1 to Nov. 4, plus Labor Day and Columbus Day. Wednesdays are open for school and corporate groups by reservation.

It is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 10 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Labor Day and Columbus Day. On the two weekends nearest to a full moon – Sept. 21 to 22 and Oct. 26 to 27 – visitors can “Maze ’Til Midnight,” but tickets must be bought by 10 p.m.

Ticket prices

Admission is $17 to $19 a person for ages 13 and older, $14 to $16 for ages 3 to 12 and free for ages 2 and younger. Group rates are available by reservation. Thursdays and September rates are lower.

Activities included in admission

• The maze, with five games: Finger Sillies, FSI (Farm Scene Investigation), Farm Tracks, Quiz Questions and
24 Hidden Checkpoints. Game times range from 10 to 20 minutes or 60 to
90 minutes.

• Fenced play area especially for kids shorter than 4 feet, including swings, pedal trikes, a shelled corn box, spider web climber, jumping pillow, and mini zip line

• 100-foot slide

• Tractor-drawn wagon rides

• Vintage 30-horse carousel

• Park train rides

• Animatronic chicken show

• Petting zoo

• Hungry goats

• Pig races

• Pedal carts

• Air cannons shooting tennis balls at targets

• 50-foot-high observation tower

• Three 8-foot-by-16-foot observation platforms

• Community campfire

• Two large picnic pavilions

Activities available
for additional fees

• Pumpkin Patch: Pick your own or choose from pre-picked pumpkins, squash and gourds for 45 cents a pound. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors: giant or small, smooth or warty, round or crook-necked, orange, yellow, red, blue, green or white.

• Xtreme Air Bungee-Enhanced Jumping: See how high you can jump in a bungee harness over a jumping pillow.

• Paintball shooting gallery

• Panning for treasures: gemstones, arrowheads or fossils

• Bunnyville, with rabbits to cuddle, pet and feed

• Ride a 750-foot-long zip line from the top of the 50-foot observation tower.

• Zorbing: Strap yourself and a friend inside a giant clear plastic ball and roll downhill.

• Private picnic sites with campfires and firewood, available by reservation

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