Brett Herbst might just be the King of Corn. He made his first corn maze in 1996, and since then he’s created over 2,000 spectacularly elaborate labyrinths as the founder of the company MAiZE. Using computer software, GPS technology, and a heck of a lot of imagination, Herbst has reinvented the traditional, autumn pastime into a work of art. As the one-time holder of the Guinness World Record for largest corn maize and the mastermind behind hundreds of sites across the country, Herbst has proven that he is head and shoulders above the rest of his field.
As a Master of Maize, Brett Herbst puts an incredible amount of thought into each of his amazing pieces. Beginning with GPS coordinates and CorelDRAW design software, he marks out fields on a grid system that ranges in size from anywhere between 8-60 acres. Once marked out with flags, he spray-paints dots on the ground to indicate where the cuts in the corn crop should be made. Herbst’s crew then carves out the pathways with rototillers and riding lawn mowers. As if gigantic vegetable portraits of President Obama or Star Wars scenes were not enough to impress, Herbst also features words in the overall design of his mazes. He sometimes even uses “reverse cuts” in which the cornstalks themselves form blocked letters, creating positive space in the overall image.
While the designs look complicated, Herbst makes sure that they are simple enough to navigate. “You don’t want people to be lost for three hours.” he told Wired Magazine. Mazes sometimes incorporate bridges to lead visitors in the right direction, although they may guide patrons back to the entrance for another go-round. In some of the more difficult layouts, the correct pathway could appear as an unassuming trail next to larger thoroughfares, and dead ends transport wanderers across the field. QR codes attached to posts can be scanned with a smartphone to offer clues on how to solve the maize.
To find one of Herbst’s maize mazes near you, visit his website to view a work in your state.
Lead Photo from Smith Rock Ranch