When the annual corn maze opens at Maple Lane Farm this year, Lea Anne Law will be there every day.
Quite a commitment from a busy person, but her appearance is pretty much set in stone -- or rather in corn.
The United Way logo and Lea Anne’s likeness are the design for this year’s Maple Lane Farm Corn Maze. Law is the campaign chair for the 2011 United Way campaign.
When called for an interview Friday, Law was surprised to learn that her likeness was joining the United Way logo as part of the maze design.
“I’m flattered and surprised,” Law said, as she looked at a mock-up in her email. “At least it’s my good side. It actually makes me look better than I really look. It is great and wonderful,” she said. “It has been a while since I’ve been in the maze. I will have to find out where I’ll end up on walking through me.”
Law said it is a major coup for United Way to have this kind of exposure and is another example of the support United Way has in Blount County. “This is great for United Way, and indicative of the lengths the folks in this county will go to to support United Way,” Law said.
Michelle Hankes, president and CEO of the United Way of Blount County, said Maple Lane Farm owner Bob Schmidt came to her with the idea this spring. “He thought this year it would be a good idea to do something for a non-profit, to give back to the community, and he thought of United Way,” she said.
Hankes was looking forward to seeing the maze design. “I’m not experienced in designing corn mazes, but there is a corn maze company that comes up with specific design. They looked at our logo and looked at our photos and chose a picture of our campaign chair Lea Anne Law and our United Way logo and turned it into a maze,” she said.
Schmidt said the Maize Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers a cafeteria-style kind of business approach, letting companies pick what they want from a wide variety of choices. “They help you with your corn maze, and I use them for design,” he said. “I send them my drawing and what I want. They have a computer program and clean it up. Usually within four or five tries, we have our maze. We’ve adjusted it this summer, and now it is in the field.”
Schmidt said he is looking forward to working with United Way. “I can not tell you exactly what is going to happen on what date, but we’ll open the corn maze on Sept. 15 and run it through end of October. During that time, there will be some United Way Days down here so they can showcase their programs. We also encourage other non-profits to come down and showcase what they do,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said he was happy to offer this opportunity to United Way and said it was “like a 10-acre billboard.”
“The corn maze is 10 acres and not only are we open September through the end of October, but the corn maze grows all summer, so it is a 10-acre bill board from mid-July all the way through the end of October,” he said. “We are in the landing pattern for McGhee Tyson Airport, so everyone landing from the west will have a birds-eye view of the corn maze and United Way.”
Schmidt said that he got the idea to partner with United Way in 2010 while on a business trip. Leland Waggoner from Chilhowee RV suggested he team up with United Way since the farm’s corn maze season and the United Way’s campaign period are at the same time.
“I thought that sounded good. We’ve had restaurant themes the past two years. We had Chick-fil-A and Texas Roadhouse. Texas Roadhouse indicated they want to come back this year to do food things, but I didn’t want another restaurant for a sponsor,” Schmidt said. “United Way came along, and we met and agreed on the deal and here we are. The rest is growing.”
Corn mazes are nothing new to Hankes. “I’m from Iowa, and we have lot of corn mazes,” she said. “This is Bob’s idea, and I’m very pleased.”