Brad Hodge started the Newberry Cornfield Maze in 2004 as a straightforward corn maze and hayride. Since then, the endeavor has grown into a haunted corn maze, haunted house and attraction.
Today’s Newberry Cornfield Maze follows the motto of “laugh by day, scream by night,” featuring a corn maze and games until the sun sets. At dusk, the haunted hayride begins and scarers populate the cornfield.
With spooky season around the corner, the Newberry Cornfield Maze is preparing for its seasonal opening on Friday, Sept. 22.
Full access to the maze and one walk-through of the haunted house are included in the price of admission, which is $20 for general admission and $15 for ages 10 and under at the gate with cash. Paying online is an extra $5 per ticket.
Christina Bridwell, a manager at Newberry Cornfield Maze, said a lot of work goes into making the attraction suitably spooky. The maze’s props manager customizes the whole property, shrink-wrapping skeletons, setting up sounds and painting scarers’ faces.
Bridwell said the haunted house may be scarier than the maze for some, because it is darker and more compact, with no place to go.
Newberry Cornfield Maze changes a little every year, and there is more to do than just a haunted house and maze. For an additional charge, guests can ride a mechanical bull or battle each other in human hamster balls.
Last year, the mechanical bull’s head was ripped off, and Bridwell said the props manager is taking advantage of the injury to turn the creature into a Franken-bull— now with no horns for guests to pull on.
The human hamster balls are also a popular attraction, and one of Bridwell’s favorite things. She said they are not only fun to use, but also to watch, as the participants’ size has nothing to do with their victory, so small girlfriends send their boyfriends flying.
“This is the best intense fellowship negotiation tool that we can ever have,” Bridwell said. “If you’re having a little bit of an argument, just go on and hit each other with the balls. It’s great.”
During work hours, the teenage scarers creep through the cornfield, the haunted house and the yard—everywhere except the no-scare zone. Newberry Cornfield employees said the job is fun and coworkers enjoy each other’s company.
“It’s a fun job to have, especially for kids, you know, it’s perfect for a kid,” Mikey Gilliam, a haunted house scarer, said.
Every Saturday, the employees have a home-cooked “family meal” together, and younger scarers look forward to being promoted to different positions.
The whole operation evolved from a family farm that has been in Hodge’s family for over 100 years. In 2004, he partnered with a company that was starting corn mazes across the country. After several years with them, Hodge branched out on his own, creating the haunted attraction the Newberry Cornfield Maze is today.
Using spooky season as an agri-tourism asset, Hodge has turned a corn maze and hordes of teenagers in scary masks and makeup into another crop for his working farm.
Though Hurricane Idalia blew over much of the cornfield this year, Hodge managed to recover much of it, and plans to be creative about weaving the maze through taller and shorter portions of the crop.
From Sept. 22 to Oct. 28, the cornfield maze will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m. In the past the attraction opened earlier in the afternoon, but Bridwell said the managers know younger children and families are not their target audience and wanted to focus more on developing the haunted portion of the farm.