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Shucks! Huntersville Corn Maze Won't Open This Year, Blames Crop Problems

Rural Hill
The 2019 Amazing Maize Maze has been canceled after the golden stalks of corn failed to grow. "We've just had a rash of issues," says Rural Hill's Jessica Bustamante.

A bad crop of corn and an unlucky spell of dry weather produced an "un-amazing" result at Historic Rural Hill's Amazing Maize Maze this year. As a result, the 2019 maze has been canceled, and the historic farm is asking for donations to offset the loss of what's typically its largest annual fundraiser.

"We've just had a rash of issues," said Jessica Bustamante, Rural Hill's interim executive director. "This is the first year that we've not been able to open. It's sad."

The farm had planned to try out a new strain of corn this year in partnership with Free Range Brewing, which would have harvested the corn and turned it into a beer when the season was over.

But the new strain failed to grow, Bustamante said, and when farmers tried replanting in late August, weeks of dry weather made it impossible for the crop to grow.

Ironically, this year's theme was supposed to be "seven symbols of good fortune," and would have included a pot of gold, a rainbow, a fairy, and a shamrock, among other symbols of good luck.

In past years, the seven-acre corn maze has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Rural Hill and raised upwards of $250,000 for the nonprofit nature preserve and historic site, which is situated on the former 1765 homestead of Major John and Violet Davidson.

The corn maze previously experienced problems in 2015 when its growth was stunted by weeks of drought. The maze opened that year with calf-high cornstalks and a shortened season. The farm also elected not to host "night mazes" that year.

Bustamante says the corn maze is Rural Hill's largest fundraiser of the year, and the farm is already reeling after it shortened it's annual Scottish festival and Highland Games in April due to lightening and excessive wind.

In order to recuperate the lost revenue, the farm is asking for donations through its Facebook page, and will be extending its upcoming Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival. The farm is also working to secure funding for a well to help with crop irrigation.

"We're taking it one day at a time, trusting the powers that be, and moving on and moving up," Bustamante said. "That's what Scottish people do."

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal