Nancy and Jerry Reding have had some pretty notable figures etched into their corn field over the past decade. "The Maize" in Chickasha has seen the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s mascot, Rumble the Bison, the full crew from “The Wizard of Oz” and even the Fab Four lineup of the Beatles.
But, in our totally biased opinion, nothing compares to this year’s design as the Redings take the OSU rivalry from the football field to the corn field with an OU vs. OSU maze depicting the Sooner Schooner and Pistol Pete.
Every year the couple picks a theme they think will appeal to the masses, and kicking off their corn maze in the throes of college football season with the University of Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State University design, we totally think they peaked in 2015.
Of course the first thing we asked these maze masterminds was who they’re rooting for this year. OU, right?
“That’s who I used to watch,” Nancy said. “We don’t watch sports now, though, because he’s a farmer. He doesn’t have time! When I was married before, OU was our team, I will say that. I just hope OSU doesn’t ask me that.”
(Uh, we hope they do?)
Some years, the maze could total 10 miles if you chose to walk the whole thing (most people don’t). If you walked every inch of this year’s, you’d be walking six or seven miles. The Redings say people typically spend over an hour in the maze and take a map in to help guide them.
How it’s done
Strategic planting makes the maze possible every year. Jerry plants the sorghum (you caught us: it’s not corn) in rows of 20 to create a grid in his 38-acre field.
Sounds simple enough — until you actually have to carve out the design in the field. Enter THE MAiZE company, which polishes the design that’s often drawn by one of the Redings’ artistic friends and sends out a crew to finish the dirty work. The workers flag the paths based off the grid and design and spraypaint the paths. They finalize the trails by walking all six or seven miles spraying the weed killer Roundup from backpack sprayers.
“Two guys are spraying full time and another guy is just running five-gallon buckets of spray out to them,” Jerry said. “That mule guy ... I feel sorry for him, especially if they’re back out in that back corner.”
During that time, the stalks are pretty short, but by the time the maze opens to the public, they’ll likely have grown to 10 feet. The taller the stalks, the more difficult it is to figure out the maze because you can’t see any clues in the distance to orient yourself.
The first maze
The Redings started off thinking they’d run a petting zoo or a series of cabins to host international travelers, but those ideas were scrapped for the themed maze that’s grown to the largest in Oklahoma and the largest in their organization of about 500 mazes.
The two had been inspired by the Newcastle pumpkin patch and then Jerry took it a step further by pitching the idea of a labyrinth.
“So I got online. I just went straight to the computer and pulled it up,” Nancy said. “I typed in ‘maze.’ Then the Maize Company came up and this big ol’ huge picture came up. I said ‘Is this what you want?’ and he said ‘That’s it! That’s it!’ In three days I had contact with them and they sent me a packet and we signed up. It happened fast.”
And since 2008, the couple has been having fun coming up with new designs to execute each year and learning better than most farmers how to abide by copyright laws so they don’t get sued. One of their favorites, and more challenging designs, featured Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and C-3PO. But it wasn’t “Star Wars.”
“We did ‘Farm Wars’ because (director George) Lucas wouldn’t let us do ‘Star Wars,’” Jerry said. “We used ‘Star Wars' but we put bandanas and pitchforks and shovels in their hands. Everyone who came out was like, ‘Oh! It’s ‘Star Wars!’ and we were like, ‘No, it’s ‘Farm Wars!’”
Nancy’s absolute favorite, though, is the OU vs. OSU design.
“This one, I don’t know … there’s just something about it,” she said.
Don’t worry, Nancy. Us Sooners understand.
You’ll find the maze at 614 Reding Road in Chickasha from Sept. 25 through Nov. 1. It’s open 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Find out more at redsiloproductions.com.