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Posted: September 15, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Into the fields

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It’s easy to lose yourself on 2-1/2 miles of paths in a seven-acre maze, but that’s part of the fun at the Colonel Cob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Oxford.

The maze, in its eighth year, opens Friday at the Mitchum farm at 787 Macedonia Church Road. Proceeds this weekend benefit The Miracle League of Newton County.

Other activities include hayrides, a corn cannon and cow train, bonfires in the evening, a petting zoo and corn silo, a giant slide and helicopter rides.

The Mitchums have been farming for more than a century, according to Kevin Mitchum.

Events such as the maze help them stay on the land.

“It’s hard to make a living by commercial farming,” he said. “Agri-tourism helps.”

They start planning a year in advance, but the corn for the maze isn’t planted until early July. Commercial corn crops are planted in April, but the Mitchums wait until midsummer so the stalks will still be green when they open the maze.

Patterns are designed by using computers and Global Positioning System equipment. A specialist was called in to actually cut out the pattern in August when the corn was waist-high.

Mazes are themed each year. The pattern this year features a rendition of Grandmother Spider, a character from a Cherokee Indian parable that shows how a little effort can have a big impact.

A Native American Green Corn Festival will be held Oct. 15-17.

A wet fall hampered attendance last year, but Mitchum said the event usually attracts 7,000 to 8,000 a year.

The site is open 6-10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 7. The maze also will be open weekdays during the Newton County School system break, Oct. 18-22.

The Miracle League is raising money to build a baseball park and field for Newton County children with mental and physical handicaps. Plans call for a baseball park with two regular fields and the Miracle League field at City Pond Park. About $100,000 in donations have been raised and the goal is $1.7 million, according to Tamara Richardson, a consultant for the project. Construction documents are in draft and the league wants to break ground in 2011.

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