Eliada Homes’ new corn maze puts you in the thick of it

It's a massive field of green.

The tall and tasseled corn covers about 10 acres of land on the campus of Eliada Homes for Children just off Leicester Highway in West Asheville. Inside, more than 3 miles of trails have been carved in the shape of castle towers and walls.

It's Eliada Home for Children's first corn maze, and it opens Sept. 25. The fund-raising event will be open Fridays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m. The maze will be open for school groups on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. by appointment. And on the weekend of Halloween, as well as the preceding weekend, the maze will be "haunted" by UNC Asheville's drama department, which will benefit from part of the proceeds.

The cornfield seemed like a cash crop for a nonprofit in search of funding in a down economy, says Eliada spokeswoman Carolyn Ashworth. Eliada Homes offers foster care, therapeutic foster care, child-development services and recreation services for children.

"We really wanted to come up with something really family friendly and fun, and our campus seemed like our best asset," says Ashworth. Thus, the corn maze.

Local farmers Bud Sales and Chad Griffin donated their time and equipment to plant the corn. A company called Mazeplay designed the intricate paths and used a small tractor and a GPS system to cut the maze.

And what will happen to all the corn once the maze closes? Ashworth says she's not sure. Until then, she hopes people will come and enjoy getting lost in a field of green. There are actually three mazes of varying degrees of difficulty, and there will be other attractions, such as a hay-bale maze, for toddlers.

Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12, with children under 5 free. Group rates are available for 20 or more.

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