Thursday, September 16, 2010
Agritourism has come to one of Catoosa County’s last working farms.
Just in time for the anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, the Sims Family Farm Civil War Corn Maze opens to the public on Saturday.
“This isn’t just a plaything, it has an historic component,” Bernard Sims said concerning the nearly 10 acres of tall green stalks that have been sculpted into a one-of-a-kind labyrinth. “We told the company [Maize Quest] that designed it that we wanted a Civil War theme.”
That the maze features the outlines of a soldier and cannon from that era is fitting since the Battle of Chickamauga’s initial action took place on and around the farm.
It was Sept. 18, 1863, when Union artillery fired on Confederate infantry moving toward fjords on Chickamauga Creek at Reed’s Bridge and Alexander Bridge roads.
Sims’ son Kevin said it is not unusual to find “arrowheads and minnie balls” when working the farm’s soil, but preparing to plant the maze’s maize led to an amazing find this summer.
“This used to be a cedar glade,” Bernard Sims said as he gestured over the lush, tasseled cornfield. “When we were clearing it we found a 3-inch ordnance shell that we took to the (Chickamauga Battlefield) Park. They were excited, it reinforces the park’s history of the battle.”
Visiting the farm 147 years ago was a matter of life and death for soldiers wearing blue or gray, but today it is more about fun and games.
“We envision this as having a family-type atmosphere,” Bernard Sims said.
A maze map includes pictures, unique facts about the Civil War and clues to an a-maize-ing scavenger hunt.
Guides, known as “corn cops,” will be on hand to assist anyone lost in the nearly impenetrable stockade of stalks.
Hayrides and visiting the maze are included in the admission price as is a play area for kids that includes inflatable bouncers. A picnic pavilion will be available for those who bring their own food or guests may visit on-site vendors.
The only additional cost for a day or evening of agritainment will be for purchasing concessions or pumpkins — 50 cents a pound with a $5 maximum — for cooking or carving.
Scouts, church or school groups and other organizations receive discounts on admission and are encouraged to call ahead to book two-hour sessions in and around the corn.
The maze will be open Saturdays and Sundays until Nov. 7 and possibly later, depending on the weather.
IF YOU GO
What: Sims Family Farm Corn Maze.
When: Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Sundays from 1 until 6 p.m.
Where: Sims Sod Farm at 1608 Burning Bush Road, entrance to the maze is on Alexander Bridge Road.
Costs: Adults (13+) is $9, youth (2-12) is $7; gains admission to the maze, hayrides and other activities.
Groups of 20+ receive a discount. Sims Farm groups and parties may add extended hayrides, birthday packages, campfires and much more.
For reservations or more information call (706) 866-4062, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the farm’s website.