Bratt corn maze open

Published 7:20 pm Monday, June 7, 2004

By By Lindsey Sherrill
The breeze rustles through the head-high stalks as you walk down the twisting path, the sweet scent of the corn sap hinting at the juicy ears yet to ripen. You round another bend in the endless, tortuous path to find yet another dead end. You turn back, then left, then right again, panic setting in as you realize you are lost in the seemingly infinite labyrinth. Just then you come upon a sign in the path. Is it a warning? A threat? No, just one of the many "corny" signs you've met in the maze- "Aw, shucks! Turn around."
Once again, Bratt's "A-maize-ing" Cornfield is open for the public from now till mid July. The cornfield, which has drawn attention from the Mobile Register and crowds from as far as Panama City, is located in Bratt, Fla. on Hwy. 4.
This is the third year that Colvin and Lavelle Davis have transformed a five acre cornfield on their farm into an intricate "maize."
"The first year the maze was very simple and only took about 30 minutes to walk through, because we weren't sure what we were doing," Colvin Davis said. "Last year we made it harder and a lot of people never got through it. Some were in for an hour or better and we had to go get them out. It should take around an hour or better again this year."
This year the Davis's have added A, B, C and D signs to keep people from giving up and returning to the entrance.
"We tell them, 'go in there and hunt until you find A. Then don't turn around till you find B'," Davis said. "It keeps people from going in and then just coming back out the entrance."
Davis said he plans to plant tropical corn in July after the maze ends. If all goes well, there will be a second maze open for Halloween.
The maze began as a simple hobby that blossomed into the draw it is today.
"I've lived in this farm community all my life and I was not one to sit down when I retired," said Davis. "So I decided to do the cornfield maze. It makes a little extra money and it sure beats just raising five acres of corn."
The maze begins each year as the Davises plot out a design on graph paper.
"We decide how we want the paths to go, kinda leading through the field, but with only one way in and one way out," he said. "We have lots of signs in there that say things like, "Aw, shucks!" and there are lots of dead ends."
Then the real work begins.
"I'll plow the corn once, then poison the weeds to keep just the grass," Davis said. "Then I'll cut five foot paths while the corn is still young. Once we get the paths cut, we can use a lawn mower on the paths every week. It's a three hour chore or more."
After all the work in planning and upkeep, the question remains: has Davis ever gotten lost in his own maze?
"I have gotten lost early on," Davis said with a laugh. "But after cutting all those paths about twice you can't lose me."
The cornfield drew its largest group to date Wednesday night when a church brought 127 youths.
"They had a ball and we enjoy having them," Davis said.
Such numbers are not unusual for the Davises, who annually see crowds as large as 100 people, many of them from youth groups.
"We mail about 100 churches information packets and their youth groups respond," said Davis, who attends Bratt First Baptist Church.
Davis said that the cornfield brought him and his wife many blessings outside of the profit.
"We appreciate people having a good time," he said. "It's a real thrill to do this and see kids and grown-ups enjoy themselves. We get to meet a lot of people and have new friends year after year from doing this. We even had one kid come back four times to try and better his time through the maze. I think his first time still ended up being the best."
Admission to the "A-maize-ing" cornfield is $5 per person or $4 for groups of 20 or more. Children under 5 are admitted free with an adult. Concessions such as corndogs, popcorn and drinks will be available. The maze is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Groups may make reservations for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Davis recommends coming after dark.
"It's cooler and the kids love to go with a flashlight," he said. "Even though you can get just as lost in the daylight!"

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