A-Maze-ing fall fun

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By Calen McKinney



Their voices get louder as they reach the end of the maze's twists and turns.

"We made it," they say. "Let's do it again," one of the children says.

The Friends of Green River Lake group has opened a corn maze this year, its first, at the entrance to Green River Lake State Park.

Going through the maze is free, and a way for the group to give back to the community, according to David Buford, the chair of the group. Buford says it╒s a way to get people to spend more time outdoors.

Buford said the corn maze began as a food plot for wildlife, as a way to keep deer away from other crops in the area. After some discussion, plans soon moved toward using the space for a maze.

"We said, 'Why not install a corn maze into it for the local community.'"

Preparation of the maze began last fall with soil tests. Next came fertilizers, design selection, no-till planting, GPS mapping, mowing and more.

"Everything at the maze has been donated," Buford said.

The friends group organized, mowed and sprayed the land. Greg and Alex Tungate did the design work and GPS mapping.

Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife staff members provided the corn, weed killer and sprayer.

Kenny Wilkerson planted the corn and Warner Fertilizer did the soil samples. Harold Inman provided and spread the lime and Southern States provided the fertilizer.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the land on which the corn maze was created and leases it to the state park.

Buford said deciding on a design for the maze proved somewhat difficult.

"[We decided], well, we'll use our logo," he said. "Nothing complicated."

The friends' group logo includes a bird and tree design. A photo of the design for the maze appears with this story.

Buford said preparation for the maze kicked into high gear in July when volunteers mowed the shoulder-high corn. Cutting the path for the maze took about three days, he said, over a two-week period. The maze opened for tours in mid-September.

The maze is about 450 feet by 500 feet, Buford said, and encompasses more than four acres.

He said the design isn't difficult, and, with a map, those who enter it can find their way out with no trouble.

"I'd say very easy," he said. "I don't see why someone shouldn't be able to go through it and not get lost."

And those who tour the maze just might see some wildlife on their journey. Buford said he knows deer and rabbits have been in the maze.

Buford said the maze will be open through the end of the month, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Typically, he said, there is no one scheduled to work the maze and people can come and tour it as they please during those hours.

This Saturday, however, a worker will be at the maze from mid-morning to 3 p.m.

Buford said touring the maze is free, though donations will be accepted for those who would like to help with costs.

Donations can also be made at the state park and campground offices, as well as Crazy Horse Archery & Tackle.

So far, Buford said, the corn maze has proven popular. At a recent meeting, he said, the friends group members were told that more than 200 people have gone through the maze so far.

And the only publicity for the maze, he said, has been a news release to local media outlets.

Buford said the friends group plans on doing a maze again next year.

"We're looking for designs for next year already," he said.

The corn maze has been one of many activities the Friends of Green River Lake group has coordinated this year.

They sponsored a 5K run/walk, the annual Kids Outdoor Day and Kids Fishing Derby, helped with trail signs and cleanup, helped with the Outhouse Trail Ride at the state park and much more.

For more information, or to learn how to become a member of the Friends of Green River Lake group, visit www.friendsofgreenriverlake.com.

The group meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., most often at the Corps of Engineer's visitor's center. The meetings are open to the public.