Greeted by a brisk morning, a few snowflakes still fell from the sky and slowly melted as they hit our car's windshield. My girlfriend and I voyaged northward to a destination about 30 minutes from Madison, just west of the sleepy little town of Lodi.
We made our way down winding country roads and pulled in an empty field that served as a parking lot. We walked from the field through the tunnel that was carefully burrowed under Highway 60. An information sign and ticket booth stood before us as we hurried in to take cover from the wind and now a slight mist.
Inside the building I asked the attendant if I could have Angie paged. A chirp and a crackle of a handheld two-way radio followed. A few minutes passed by before we were greeted by the owner of Treinen Farm. She began by giving us a tour of the farm and filled us in with some history.
Angie Treinen’s husband, Alan, is a 3rd generation farmer. Alan's grandparents had purchased the plot of land in the 1920s and started planting crops like hay, soy, and corn. Angie and Alan have now taken over the day-to-day operations of the family farm, tending to the expansive 200 acres.
In the early 90s, Alan and Angie decided to plant a pumpkin patch, a popular fall attraction, and decided to give wagon rides to the patch. The couple purchased a small team of draft horses to draw the wagons. They continued accumulating the giants and now claim 14, which are mostly of the Belgian breed. The Treinen’s welcomed the latest member to their stable this spring with the birth of a female foal named Dot.
In 2001 the Treinen's decided to create a corn maze as a fun addition to the experience they offered at the farm. Angie put in hours of research and decided her first design would be a draft horse with a wagon in tow. Over the years the designs have grown in complexity.
Angie, almost jokingly, considers herself "an artist that works only in corn." She labors for a week to draw up the design for the season and It then takes another week for Alan and his crew to transfer the design into a 15 acre field. The design is then cut into the field shortly after the the corn begins to sprout. (Learn how Angie and Alan design and cut the mazes at Math.Corn.Fun.)
Angie informed me that most corn mazes are designed by companies and cut into fields using GPS and a tractor. Angie and Alan prefer to do their design and implementation the old fashioned way, manually. They use flags, paint, and a mower to cut the design into the field. This method allows for a more intricate design and a more accurate cut, but brings with it more potential for error and of course a more laborious process.
Angie aims for a fun, educational, and an interactive experience with her designs. Her first objective is to have an esthetically pleasing image with a recognizable central character. She then makes sure that the design makes for a good maze (no long dead-ends or multiple ways to get through the maze). Then, she intersperses complex geometric shapes (just ask her about golden spirals, Platonic solids, and hypercubes) and nods to history, mythology, and literature to provide education for her visitors. The result is a unique design that includes multiple layers of meaning to the maze. For 2014, the theme chosen was the Owl of Athena, the Greek symbol for knowledge and wisdom.
A veterinarian by trade, Angie's aim is to educate her visitors with a unique experience on their farm. Whether it's through the natural world with horticulture and livestock or the wonders of complex geometry, history, literature, and navigation skills. Everyone is bound to learn something.
We left the farm a bit chillier from the cold morning, but with a sense of wonder of what can be done with a lot of hard work and creativity.
Extras: The maze is open every Friday and Saturday night through Halloween for a fun and challenging flashlight experience. Think real-life Children of the Corn.
The Treinens are also hosting Zompocolypse, Saturday, October 25, from 7 p.m. to midnight for an extra creepy experience. Dress up like a zombie (not required) for an evening of shuffling, staggering, moaning and most importantly, the scaring of civilians in the corn maze.
Treinen Farm is a land designed for family fun. Besides the corn maze you can enjoy wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, play in their “cornbox”, meet barnyard animals, play on their tractor tire playground and more. Bring your appetite so you can enjoy many of the food offerings like brats and hotdogs or try some of their locally sourced snacks like apple cider doughnuts, fresh kettle corn, and caramel apples. Treinen Farm is located only 20 miles north of Madison, just west of Lodi on State Highway 60.
More info on Treinen Farm
Treinen Farm - Lodi
2014 operating dates: September 26 - October 31
Fridays 3 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. (last maze entry is at 9 p.m.)
Hayrides 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Saturdays 10 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. (last maze entry is at 9 p.m.)
Hayrides 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sundays 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (last maze entry is 5 p.m.)
Hayrides 10am - 5pm
If you can’t make the trek to Lodi, check out my list of Wisconsin corn mazes that might be in your neck of the woods. Please check online or call to verify hours and dates of operation.
Busy Barns Adventure Farm - Fort Atkinson
2014 operating dates: September 13 - October 26
Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday in October 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Meuer Farm - Chilton
2014 Operating Dates: September 12 - November 2
Monday - Thursday Noon - 6 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Vesperman Farms - Lancaster
2014 operating dates: September 20 - November 2
Monday -Friday Noon - 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Hidden Trails Corn Maze - West Salem
2014 operating dates: September 1 - November 2
Friday 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sundays 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Homestead Animal Farm - Hartland
2014 operating dates: September 27 - October 26
Saturdays & Sundays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Beechwood Corn Maze - Ripon
2014 operating dates: September 20 - November 1
Fridays 5 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Saturdays Noon - 9:30 p.m.
Sundays Noon - 5 p.m.
Mayr Family Farm - DeForest
2014 operating dates: September 13th - October 31st
Friday 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sundays 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Schuster’s Farm - Deerfield
2014 operating dates: September 20 – November 1
Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
November 1st Pumpkin Destruction Day 10:00am-5:00pm
Borzynski's - Racine
2014 operating dates: September 20 – November 2
Monday – Friday: Pre-Scheduled Groups of 20 or more
Friday Noon - 7 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (October 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.)
Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Keep Wisconsin Warm Corn Maze - Madison
Thursday and Friday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Creek Bed Country Farmacy - Poynette
2014 operating dates: September 27th - October 26th
Friday 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Wisconsin is known for its corn fields and mazes, so if you have a favorite that isn’t listed above, feel free to leave the info in the comments below!
Jeff Finup is a writer, motorcycle enthusiast and lover of all things Wisconsin. When he’s not roaming the countryside, you can find him cheering on his favorite Wisconsin sports teams or hanging out at his Northwood’s cabin. You can follow him on twitter: @ChallengeAway