2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
How To Set Up A Money-Making Maize Maze
"We were surprised when we hit 10 mazes a year, then 30, then 60, and now we do more than 100 per year," says Brett Herbst.
Their first maze was in their home state of Utah in 1996. It drew more than 18,000 visitors in three weeks. Since then, they have designed and helped develop more than 450 mazes in North America and Europe.
For an up-front fee of $1,500 the first year ($500 for succeeding years) plus 6 percent of ticket sales, their company MaiZE, provides clients with a custom design, a video describing how to cut the design out of standing corn, a web page on the company's site, and exclusive rights to a MAiZE maze in your area. A training guide offers help on site selection, maze creation techniques, farming techniques, legal/liability, marketing materials and planning, as well as employee training. A cutting team to help those who choose not to cut out their own maze costs an extra $1,200 plus travel.
Even with all the help MAiZE provides, running a maze isn't for everyone, stresses Brett Herbst. "Obviously the first requirement is to be enthusiastic about the project and about working with people," he says. "You also need a population base to pull from. If you have 50,000 people within an hour, you can be successful."
Herbst says most entry fees are priced between $5 to $9 for adults and $3 to $6 for kids. He suggests discounts for field trips or church groups. Some maze owners only charge enough to cover costs, especially if they do it to draw business to pick your own pumpkins and other on-farm businesses.
Of course, like any kind of farming, weather is a risk. Herbst relates that hurricanes in the Southeast this past year took out about half the planned MAiZE mazes. An exception was a farmer in Tennessee who lost every corn field on the farm except for his maze.
Successful maze operations don't stop with a single attraction, says Herbst. "Each year they add attractions for a fresh look and to keep people coming back," he explains. "We've had people do everything from hay rides to corn cannons to sandboxes of corn for kids to play in. You want to make it a unique experience that is very memorable."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brett & Nicole Herbst, The MAiZE, P.O. Box 367, Spanish Fork, Utah 84660 (ph 801 798-0596; cell: 801 427-6006; email: email@example.com; website: www.corn fieldmaze.com).
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