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Corn maze takes inspiration from double wedding ring quilts

Corn maze takes inspiration from double wedding ring quilts

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TAZEWELL, Va. — A Southwest Virginia museum is honoring the Appalachian cultural heritage with a corn maze designed in the double wedding ring quilt pattern.

According to Cynthia Farmer, executive director of the Historic Crab Orchard Museum in Tazewell, Virginia, the 2021 event, “Piecing Together the Past,” marks the eighth consecutive year the museum has hosted a corn maze for the enjoyment of the community.

The maze design is cut into three acres of corn on land across Highway 460 from the museum, surrounding the 1907 Pisgah Store, home to Fisher & Company Restaurant.

The maze is open to the public through Oct. 31.

Farmer said the annual fall event is a major fundraiser for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“Since we do not receive any state or federal funding our annual corn maze event has been instrumental in supplementing our operating budget,” she said.

The museum chooses a theme each year that focuses on a display in the museum or on the grounds. Past themes have included the heritage of Native Americans, pioneer farming, mountain music, Appalachian food and the locomotive industrialization. One year, the museum presented a theme on the Varmint of Burke’s Garden, the name given to a coyote that terrorized the community by killing hundreds of sheep in the 1950s.

Educational items and descriptions are reflected within the checkpoints in the mazes, focusing on artifacts in the museum gallery, collections or in the local area. Twelve checkpoints in this year’s quilt maze highlight museum and local artifacts related to Appalachian textiles.

The quilt display consists of a mini maze that measures 0.4 mile and a larger one measuring 1.7 miles. The smaller maze, appropriate for young children, represents a spool of thread and needle design. The larger maze depicts the double wedding ring design.

“This maze showcases and honors this beautiful Appalachian skill and tradition that started by necessity and has in many cases developed into a domestic art form. It’s a tradition that often produced cherished pieces that have been handed down over many generations,” Farmer said.

According to her, the planting of the corn for the maze was a consolidated effort from museum supporters. Local farmer John Fisher planted the corn provided by Jeff Jowers of Southern States.

In addition to the corn maze, seven acres have been cultivated by Stewart Etter for the Pisgah Pumpkin Patch, featuring 40 varieties of pumpkins and specialty gourds. Visitors can go out into the patch with wagons to select pumpkins or choose from the prepicked ones.

Public hours for the corn maze are 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to dusk on Sundays. Flashlight tours are offered until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, weather permitting.

Admission to the maze is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 5 to 12 and free for 4 and younger with an accompanying adult.

Wagon rides are $2 for ages 5 and older and free for 4 and younger with an accompanying adult. Punkin’ Chunkin’ is $10 for four pumpkins to fling with a giant slingshot towards a barrel target in the field.

Farmer said the corn maze is an event that is ideal for church groups, birthday parties, sports team parties and company outings. Groups of 15 or more that preschedule a visit on the weekends will receive a 20% discount per admission ticket.

“Certainly, the maze is a fun place to visit, but it also reinforces the museum’s mission to preserve and promote Appalachian cultural heritage,” said Farmer.

During maze season, museum admission on weekends for corn maze visitors is reduced to $4 for adults and $2 for kids ages 5 to 12. Kids 4 and younger are always free with a paying adult. Museum weekend hours during the corn maze season are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Visitors that want to stay overnight may book accommodations in the Cottage at Crab Orchard at 276-988-6755.

Check out Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Crab Orchard Corn Maze on Facebook and at www.craborchardmuseum.com.

Carolyn Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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