A Maze in Tradition

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

The legacy of the McKee corn maze is something of a glowing needle that is worthy of being found.
For years, the McKee family has hosted friends, neighbors and strangers from communities near and far, to chance their skills of navigating a field of corn. At 12 acres, the corn maze, is where a kid can be a kid and an adult can be a kid, too.
On the family farm, off Kiger Road in Northern Orange County, the McKee’s devote time, energy, and a healthy dose of creativity to their maze and during the last two weeks of October, the energy within the maze takes on a haunted theme.
The corn maze just doesn’t happen. Early in the summer, David McKee turns his attention to preparing the land and planting corn. Like all farming endeavors, success in seed to germination to the growth of a plant depends on a number of factors, with many being out the farmer’s hands. Yet before tractor and planter enters the field, Vickie McKee uses her artistic abilities to plot and plan; what she creates will be the design of the maze.
“We have had many different designs over the years, with most honoring the tradition of agriculture or something else symbolic to our state,” Vickie McKee said.
As stewards of the land and valued members of the community, the McKees began their maze for many reasons, among them because it was something wholesome for the community and families to enjoy.
Over the years, several youths, friends and family have assisted the McKees with their maze as attendants and in other roles. Last year, when the community of Caldwell suffered through and continues to heal from the loss of Kacie Chamberlain and Chase Underhill, the McKees joined other efforts in recognizing their lives through something unique in the maze.
“Kacie worked here and she was what the old timers describe as, ‘an old soul,’” McKee said. Having been moved by the loss and impact in their community, Vickie McKee incorporated into the maze this year, symbols that honor the young legacy of Chamberlain and Underhill. “We got pleasure in watching Kacie’s interactions with people as well as the love she had with our farm animals,” Vickie said. Within the maze, McKee designed a horseshoe along with Kacie’s initials and her softball number. For Chase, whom the McKees got to know through youth baseball, Vickie McKee designed a cowboy boot with his initials. “Both symbols have halos above them,” says Vickie. From proceeds of their maze, the McKees will contribute to scholarships in memory of Chase and Kacie, as well as supporting OCIM, Breast Cancer Awareness, and contributing to the Piedmont Livestock Show.
The maze presents consistent challenges for adults, and there are good-natured competitions for those who attempt to race the clock from entrance to exit. And while the maze offers family entertainment and an opportunity to inhale the wonder of a natural rural landscape, it is the special dates of the haunted maze that increase the allure of attending.
There will be food and refreshments during these special haunted maze times. From within the maze, the McKees have found a niche tradition that is important to their community. The symbolism inside the maze this year is both reflective an agricultural passion and the memories of two important youth from the community. The McKees hope those who visit the maze will find adults acting like kids and kids acting like kids, and that inside the maze, the halo reminds of lives lost and lives found in memory.
Have a feature for Jason Hawkins email him at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com

Find out more
Visit www.mckeecornmaze.com for information. Maze hours of operation are Fridays, 3-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sundays, 1-7 p.m.
Hours will vary during the weekend of the haunted maze. The day maze will close at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. for the haunted maze. The Haunted Trail and Cornfield Maze will take place Oct. 25, 26 and 31. The Cedar Creek Farm is at 5011 Kiger Road, Rougemont. Call Visit www.mckeecornmaze.com for information. Maze hours of operation are Fridays, 3-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sundays, 1-7 p.m.
Hours will vary during the weekend of the haunted maze. The day maze will close at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. for the haunted maze. The Haunted Trail and Cornfield Maze will take place Oct. 25, 26 and 31. The Cedar Creek Farm is at 5011 Kiger Road, Rougemont. Call 919-732-8065.