SPANISH FORK, Utah - You can grow it, shuck it, pop it, cook it and increasingly over the last few years even play in it. With more than 3,500 reported uses, corn may just be the world's most widely-used crop. Its current popularity, however, seems to be less about eating it and more about getting lost in it. Brett Herbst, founder of the world's largest corn maze consulting company, The MAiZE, is helping to expand the craze by partnering with "agritainment farms" in more than 280 communities around the world this fall.
"Agriculture has always been my passion and this has been a way for me to share a part of that experience with others and with my family. The overwhelming response we've received has exceeded even my own expectations," Herbst said.
THE MAiZE was first introduced to Utah in 1996 as the largest human-size cornfield maze in the western United States. After his first maze drew more than 18,000 visitors in only three weeks, Herbst's agritainment concept was born and has gone on to challenge the wits of millions. Since 1996, Herbst and his team have designed more than 4,000 mazes that have challenged and thrilled those seeking to find the only exits from the twists and turns. Visitors fortunate enough to stumble onto the correct pathways have exited the maze in less than 30 minutes; the more directionally-challenged have wandered the puzzles for up to three hours.
"What's surprised me more than anything is how this has filled an entertainment gap that we didn't even know existed," Herbst said. "People, young and old, have thanked us time and time again for providing a source of recreation that is fun for all ages, clean, educational and unique. It's somewhere you can have fun and learn a little something about agriculture, whether you come with your kids, grandparents, spouse, date or school. It just seems to appeal to everyone."
Herbst grew up on a farm in Salmon, Idaho and graduated with a degree in agribusiness from Brigham Young University. Following two years with the worldwide Farm Management Company, he founded The MAiZE. The company now employs 10 year-round staff and many more seasonal employees who design mazes, provide business support and tools, and travel the world cutting mazes for more than 280 farms worldwide.