Children lost in a cornfield rather than a cellphone is what Eric and Amanda Knight had in mind when they began Corn Dodgers Farm in Headland.
“Make some memories, and start a tradition — that’s what we like to tell everyone who comes here,” said Amanda, 37. “If we can help them do that, we feel blessed.”
The idea for Corn Dodgers Farm happened when the couple visited a corn maze near Auburn in 2001, Eric said. The Knights opened Corn Dodgers in 2009 with a maze and four attractions, expanding to include two mazes covering 8 acres and 29 attractions. They also raise hay, pecans and satsumas on their farm.
Their most recent addition, The Crooked Porch, opened in 2015. It features a leaning house with tilted windows and wacky walls and has restrooms and an air-conditioned store. Families enjoy hayrides plus farm animals like goats, rabbits, pigs, a donkey and horses.
For everyone who visits the farm, the experience is a little different, Eric said.
“For some, it’s a walk down memory lane of childhood days spent on a farm,” he said. “For others, it’s a connection they can’t find through modern technology or other things. This place gives families a connection to the land and to each other.”
“It seems like we’re married to a screen nowadays,” she said. “You’ve got to have a lot of different things to offer people to pull them away from that. The only time you usually see someone pull out a phone here is if they’re taking a picture.”
Corn Dodgers is also a learning experience.
The Knights created the Crop College, a station for learning about pumpkins, sunflowers, corn, cotton and other crops. Children touch and feel crops and seeds and discover how farmers grow their food and clothes, Amanda said.
A concession stand increased the average farm stay for most families to about three hours, she said.
Corn Dodgers Farm is open weekends Sept. 23 to Oct. 29 on Fridays from 5 – 10 p.m., Saturdays from noon-10 p.m., and Sundays from 1 – 6 p.m. Admission is $11 and includes most attractions. The farm hosts birthday parties and other events by appointment throughout the year.
The farm attracts about 10,000 guests annually plus thousands more children on school field trips. In addition to education and entertainment, Corn Dodgers Farm boosts the local economy by hiring 30 to 50 part-time employees ranging from teenagers to retirees.
“The most rewarding part of our farm is seeing a child’s face light up when they get to experience a little bit of what it’s like to really be on a farm,” Eric said.