Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Family and Youth Groups Heart of Agri-tainment Business for Uncle Shuck's Corn Maze

Puzzle Solving in Maze and Climbing Goats Provide New Autumn Entertainment

Making the shift from corporate America to “cornfield America” was a decision Georgia resident Mike Pinzl made in 2002 to spend more time with his family. As the ninth season commences in Dawson County, Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch has grown from 12,000 visitors in that first year to more than 40,000 visitors each fall. A large percent of business in September is attributable to group outings to the maze, such as Boy Scouts of America, church groups and special youth outings such as Foster Family Day.

Pinzl attributes the appeal of this annual fall pilgrimage to his 20-acre complex along the Etowah River to plain old family fun. “We offer a safe, clean and fun environment, and we are pleased to built a strong reputation and brand for the name Uncle Shuck’s,” said Mike Pinzl, known as “Uncle Shuck”, who is an active member of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, Dawson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association.

“We support the chambers and do a fundraiser for the Dawson County High School and the Forsyth Explorers with our annual haunted maze. This year my wife Roxanne and I felt we could do something more for families in the community, especially for young people who need a loving place to call home. We added a Foster Family Day in September," Pinzl added.

Families who support foster children in Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin and White counties were invited to a complimentary evening at the maze on Saturday, September 11. There were 85 people who took part in this inaugural event, who were treated to a hayride, maze passes and allowed to feed the goats in the Great Goat Trek area. “My family had a great time. This was our first Corn Maze experience and it was a blast. We loved playing Farm Scene Investigation,” said one of the foster family parents.

Scout weekends attract 2,500 boys and girls over two weekends during the official start of autumn. Boy Scout Weekend will be Sept 25-26 and Girl Scout Weekend follows on Oct 2-3. All children who are part of Scout Weekends, or come in scout uniforms on other days, receive a combo ticket (maze and hay ride), a special Uncle Shuck’s patch, and access to a special demonstration by Smithgall Woods Education Center (11am to 4pm each day). The cost is $11 per scout. A November “Cousin Dozen” special is being promoted with Georgia’s official tourism web site, www.exploregeorgia.org.

The main attraction for all groups is still the 12-acre maze, which has two separate pathways cut through the living cornstalks form the intricate scales and veins of a giant Monarch butterfly. This season, visitors can not only “have fun getting lost”, but special maps provide clues in a “whodunit” game called Farm Scene Investigation. The game card is provided with admission for a new twist in the maze. On the festival grounds a new attraction for 2010 is the Great Goat Trek. A small herd of the nimble farm animals will climb along narrow walkways and a series of five platforms, ranging from three feet to 15 feet above the ground. Visitors can reward the goats by delivering special feed to the highest platform with a hand-held food delivery system. According to Pinzl, goats are natural climbers.

The Pumpkin Patch opens October 1, with gourds and pumpkins priced individually for customers. Also in October is the popular Haunted Maze, a separate one-mile path that opens after dusk as the “Husks of Horror”. The Haunted Maze will operate every Friday and Saturday night (dusk to 10 p.m.) in October, as well as a special Sunday, Oct 10 “Haunt Night”. The Haunted Maze is $12 per person, or $15 as a combo ticket, which is a fundraiser for the Forsyth County Explorers.

Regular admission prices are $9 per person for the maze; maze admission is free for children 3 and under. There are additional activities at the agri-tourism complex, such as a tractor-drawn hay ride along the Etowah River, bonfire area and corn cannon; fees vary (hay ride with marshmallow toasting at the bonfire is $5 per person). A combo ticket for $12 includes admission to the maze, a hay ride and a bonfire pass.There is no admission fee for the Picnic Pavilion, Kiddie CORNer (soybean maze, hay bales) or photo area.

Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch is located only 40 minutes from metro Atlanta, just two miles west from the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall on Georgia Highway 53. For more information, visit www.uncleshucks.com, or follow the progress of the maze on Facebook.
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