When it came time for Hobson's Farm in Rockville to decide what design to use in their 2008 corn maze, they didn't have to go far for inspiration.
The Hobsons, Patricia and Corey, chose to honor a family member and the United States military this year with their National Guard-themed corn maze.
The maze -- all seven acres of it -- features the Hobson's Farm logo, as well as the Indiana National Guard insignia and the logo of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 76th Brigade Family Readiness Group. The readiness group is connected to the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Indiana National Guard, currently deployed to Iraq.
It will be the fifth year for the corn maze at Hobson's, and the family expects the 11/2-to 2-mile maze to be quite a challenge for visitors. It is two mazes in one, Patricia Hobson said during a recent interview.
"The first is shorter and easier," she said. "The second can get you really lost!"
Corey Hobson said his cousin, Roger Smith, is part of the 76th.
Patricia Hobson said she and her husband approached Roger's wife, Melissa Smith, who is also the chairwoman of the Family Readiness Group, and suggested the idea as a way to do something for the troops and their families.
Corey said, "We wanted to keep the maze design a secret for awhile, because there's a lot of emotion. We didn't want to make it more emotional than it already was."
In addition to designing the maze in honor of the Indiana National Guard and the 76th Family Readiness Group, the Hobsons plan to offer a day for the families of the 76th to come out and experience the maze.
Corey said when he learned there were 150 children of the troops in the 76th deployment, "We wanted to do something for them."
Also, during the first day the maze is open -- Sept. 20 -- $1 of each admission will be donated to the military and their families.
Melissa Smith said the Family Readiness Group works to help military families stay connected with others like them.
"We don't live on a military base, so we can't walk out and see someone in our shoes," Smith said. The group provides news and updates to families, six battalion events each year for families to come together, as well as other types of assistance.
In past years, the maze has had various themes.
"The first year, we did a basic, right-angle maze," Patricia Hobson said. After that, the family created a covered bridge maze, and in the third year, a horse-and-buggy maze to honor Parke County's Amish population.
In 2007, the family created an Apache Helicopter design, in memory of Rockville native Timothy Flanigan, who was killed in 2006 when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.
The family comes up with a design and sends the idea to a Utah company called "The Maze," which turns the idea into a map and blueprints for marking the field.
The Hobsons cross-plant their corn in a grid, and then devote three or four days to marking the area using the blueprints.
After that, they use a zero-turn lawnmower to cut the areas marked off to create the maze.
This season, the Hobsons expect to see between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors over the seven weekends the corn maze is operating. Of course, weather will play a role in the turnout. Field trips are not as common as they used to be, Corey Hobson said, because of tight fuel budgets in the schools.
When asked how people can be sure they find their way out of the maze, Corey said, "Some people get a little nervous they won't find their way out -- but they all do."
Laughing, his wife Patricia put her hand on his shoulder and said, "I honestly don't know if he could find his way out!"
Hobson's Farm Corn Maze also features activities for younger children and families, including campfire sites, a petting zoo, a hay bale maze and many other activities.
2007 Apache Helicopter design in memory of Rockville native Timothy Flanigan, who was killed in 2006 when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.