Utah County’s newest corn maze is what the Larsen family describes as a “labor of love,” built to commemorate their dad, grandpa and great-grandpa, Glen Ray Larsen.
Glen Ray was what granddaughter Kara Lewis described as an icon around the Leland area. He was always recognizable in his baby blue, custom-made 1977 Ford pickup truck.
“Anytime you ever went anywhere with him, everybody waved at grandpa,” Lewis said. “They knew his truck.”
His distinct ride ended up being what gave him away as the “corn fairy,” son Rex Larsen recalls — that’s what neighbors dubbed him when they figured out he was the one leaving bags of corn on community member’s porches before dawn.
Rex Larsen, the fifth-generation farmer of an operation that’s been in the family since 1867, chuckled as he recalled his father’s efforts.
“Eventually, the truck kind of stands out,” Larsen said. “So they did eventually figure that out and nicknamed him the corn fairy.”
The corn fairy “mascot” — complete with corn husk fairy wings — is just one way that Glen Ray’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch commemorates Glen and Genevieve Larsen.
“We just wanted to keep their memory alive, and keep their traditions in agriculture going, and kind of evolve with the community,” Lewis said. “A lot of homes are going in around here, and a lot of farms are being converted into developments, and we wanted to invite all those new people to enjoy the farm.”
When Lewis moved back to Utah with her husband and four boys, she asked what could be done to help around the farm.
Larsen, who like other local farmers has been affected by drought and depressed prices on products, half jokingly asked her to help him find a way to make more money.
“So we just started,” Lewis said. “Even my boys started coming up with ideas for how we could do a corn maze, pumpkin patch, that sort of thing, and it just kind of evolved and happened.”
The whole family pitched in to create the corn maze and attractions, each using their different strengths. Larsen, of course, grew the corn for the maze and planted the pumpkin patch.
But when it came time to create the actual maze itself, Larsen had to get a bit more creative. It would have cost him about $5,000 to have someone come in and cut the maze for him, so he figured out a way to do it himself.
“I got online and typed in, ‘cutting corn maze’ and this video comes up of this guy on a zero-turn lawnmower with a GPS screen in front of him, up there driving around cutting a corn maze,” Larsen said.
So with a riding lawnmower, a GPS system and a brightly colored umbrella to keep the sun off the GPS screen, Larsen set out to cut his own corn maze.
Larsen said he was pleasantly surprised at the finished result: A maze which, from above, resembles a grinning jack-o’-lantern.
“When you’re in there, you have no idea if it’s going to look like anything when you’re done,” Larsen said. “All you can see is what’s in front of you.”
Other family members and friends picked up other tasks to make everything a reality. Lewis took over social media and marketing, while her husband, a contractor, built two slides using hay bales and plastic.
A family friend created much of the artwork, and a cousin drew up the corn fairy mascot. A family friend built a barrel train for kids to ride in.
“One of the biggest struggles with some of the farmers in this area is not having anyone to really take over the farm when they get older and ready to retire,” Lewis said. “So something like this, we can each use our different strengths and come together as a family and use our skills that we have, and just kind of keep the farm going as long as we can.”
Glen Ray’s Corn Maze is located at 1750 W. 8000 South, Spanish Fork, and is open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. School field trips can also be scheduled during the day.
More information can be found at http://glenrayscornmaze.com.