With the beautiful fall weather upon us, I'm continually on the hunt for fun and unique ways that my family can get outside and enjoy the last bits of warmth and sunshine that are left before winter sets in.
Usually that means things like meeting friends at the park, taking leisurely walks or hanging out chatting with our neighbors while the kids run around, laughing and playing. All of which are great... but this year we upped the level of enjoyment that we're having outdoors by visiting the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund Charity Corn Maze.
The second annual event of its kind, this gigantic urban corn maze (it is located on the west side of Madison, WI) gives families the opportunity to do much more than simply get lost together... although it definitely does provide that.
As well as the massive maze itself, I was surprised to find all of the various trivia, games, scavenger hunts, face painting, arts & crafts and more to keep kids excited about their visit. But, even better than all that? The entire thing benefits the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund and works to raise a great deal of funds to help keep Wisconsinites provided with warmth and electricity when the temperatures drop.
As less than 2% of corn mazes in the nation are not-for-profit, I love that the KWW/CF (as well as the wonderful businesses that joined in with their support) has found a way to bring families together while benefiting such a good cause. We couldn't wait to give this fun event a try!
Right away Big Sister E and Little Sister B were excited about all of the pumpkin decorations and were marveling at the tall corn that they could see through the fence.
Having never been in a corn maze before, I assumed that we would find corn. In the shape of a maze. And we'd wander around a bit, follow a map, and end up sauntering out whenever we felt like it. Sounds reasonable, right?
As we walked up to the entrance, it started to look slightly daunting, but still nothing that we couldn't handle. Last year's maze was 8.8 acres, that couldn't really be that big...
Twenty feet in and we were met with a curious sign.
A or B? How did we know? Were we just supposed to choose one? As my husband and I pondered what to do, another family walked in behind us discussing the two pages of trivia questions that they were holding.
As we chatted with them for a minute, it became apparent that we had missed picking up the Halloween- or Oktoberfest-themed lists of 15 questions, wherein by selecting the correct answer it will give a hint on which direction to go.
This family was sweet enough to save us from having to return to check-in table by giving us their Oktoberfest-themed sheet... but as they walked away and we looked at the questions, it was pretty clear that they weren't going to help us much.
(By the end of the maze, it turned out that the sheet helped us exactly one time... when we were pretty sure that the first beer of the Oktoberfest festival is traditionally given to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria and not David Hasselhoff. Hey, what I can say? We're geniuses. The rest of the questions were much, much more baffling.)
Instead, we proceeded on, trying to mentally take note of the various turns that we had taken so that, coming upon a dead end, we were able to backtrack without too much trouble.
It didn't take long before I realized that a corn maze is indeed a maze. The walls of corn are much too tall to see over, so if you forget where you are, you're pretty much left to just stare at corn. Lots of corn.
Little Sister B didn't mind in the slightest, as any time that we stopped (for a break or for my husband to check out the various forks in the road before we all trooped down one of them) she would busy herself checking out just how interesting it was that this is the way that corn grows.
Mostly, however, she spent her time in the maze being carried, as her little legs couldn't keep up with the amount of walking that we did (and the ground was too bumpy to be stroller-friendly).
Big Sister E, on the other hand, LOVED the maze. The thrill of the twists and turns, getting to run ahead and peek around the corners, and the overall excitement when we discovered the next numbered sign that indicated that we were still on the right path. She never once got tired or complained, but instead just kept on laughing and having fun!
After around an hour and 15 minutes, we made our way past the final numbered marker and back out of the maze, tired but still happy. While all I wanted to do was sit down and take a little rest, the girls both still somehow had plenty of energy to check out the rest of the activities available, namely: the bounce house.
Sprecher's Restaurant and Pub, located right next door to the maze, supplied this bouncing entertainment, as well as "bowling" and a variety of tasty concessions for kids (e.g. sodas, floats, and brats) and adults (e.g. beer. Lots of beer).
After checking out Sprecher's mini-festival for a while, we headed back to the KWW/CF tent to take part in their arts & crafts, get a balloon, watch the face painting, pick a prize for participating in the scavenger hunt within the maze (the kids each found a small plastic spider), and munch on some popcorn.
Although the prize bin contained an odd assortment of items (I understood the stuffed animals and dress-up items, but scratched my head at things like flat irons, batteries, and dog treats), the girls happily picked out an animal, made a cute beaded bracelet, and overall enjoyed the trip even more.
Coinciding with the official start of autumn, we're going to be sure to remember the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund Charity Corn Maze next year. After all, supporting a good cause, spending time together outside, and conquering something that we later found out was in the shape of a huge ear of corn? Why, that's just good family fun.
Find out more information about the KWW/CF Charity Corn Maze on their website and, if you're ever in the Madison area during the fall, be sure to stop by!
(A big thank you to US Family Guide and the KWW/CF for providing my family a chance to visit and try out this fun outdoor family adventure)