Lost in space? Richardson's corn maze this years pay tribute to Apollo 11
Richardson Farm's 28-acre corn maze, which in the past has paid tribute to Illinois' bicentennial and the Cubs' World Series win, finds its inspiration this year in a major American milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The maze, which forms 9.7 miles of trails, opens for the season in Spring Grove on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Each year since 2001, the Richardson family has planted a maze that forms a picture when viewed from above.
George Richardson said he and his brother Robert, who both pilot their privately owned Cessa aircraft, have admired landscapes from the air. That inspired them to plant a series of corn mazes that form massive, beautiful pictures.
"As pilots we like to look down at patterns in the landscape," George said. "We thought, 'Well, we're going to do a corn maze, (then) we're going to do one in a fantastic pattern that makes a giant picture when seen from the air.'"
The Apollo 11 design was created by an outside vendor. With the aid of GPS and computer technology, the corn seed was planted precisely in the spring to form the pattern for the maze. Richardson said they plant sterile corn, which generally does not produce kernels and does not require as much energy to grow.
The NASA logo is in the upper left corner of the maze, alongside the number 50. The design also includes two astronauts, one of whom is holding the American flag, a lunar module, a rocket and Earth rising in the background above the horizon of the moon.
George Richardson said the design is a "checkpoint maze," and there are no dead-ends, except at the end of letters that are part of words in the design. The checkpoints are numbered on a provided map, and the challenge is to find them. There are three bridges in the maze that overlook the top of the corn, and a 50-foot observation tower at the entrance.