Rutledge Corn Maze gained quite a bit of notoriety for its Beast Mode interpretation of the former Seattle Seahawks running back, Marshawn Lynch, in 2012. But what’s likely more impressive than the design is how it’s created each year.
Rutledge opened its first corn maze in 2000 — a depiction of the Capitol Building — when the mazes were gaining popularity. In 2002, Rutledge was the first in history to plant its corn in the shape of a design instead of tilling a pre-established field. Rutledge works with Idaho-based MazePlay, which draws and plants Rutledge’s design each year. For the last 17 years, Rutledge has featured German shepherds, Twilight Breaking Dawn, a train, pirates, a firetruck, and much more.
This year’s beautiful design gives a nod to Thurston County’s Bountiful Byway.
The byway is 60 miles of farms, farmers markets, breweries, and distilleries in Thurston County that can be visited by bike or car. Rutledge partnered with Experience Olympia & Beyond to promote the Bountiful Byway and make residents aware of the scenic destination.
Checkpoints inside the corn maze give visitors bits of information about some of the farms and spirits along the byway, said Robby Rutledge, whose family has owned and operated the farm since the 1800s — around the same time Washington was settled by pioneers. Rutledge’s ancestors migrated to the area on the Oregon Trail and have been farming here ever since, he said.
One of Rutledge’s favorite aspects of having visitors at the farm is connecting people with nature and the origin of their food.
“It’s amazing to me, every year we get little kids who say, ‘Oh mom, look at those eggs, they’re farm fresh,’ and then they look at the chickens and don’t know that there’s a correlation,” Rutledge said. “Some kids don’t know that goats can produce milk as well as other animals.”
And coming to the maze and picking out pumpkins in October has become a family tradition for many locals, Rutledge said. It’s rewarding to meet people who enjoy the farm year-after-year.
In recent years, Rutledge has added a zombie paintball course and is working on a zip swing, which would be similar to ziplining.
The Rutledge farm occupies 40 acres and the maze itself is 5 acres. Roughly 20,000 people trudge through for the corn maze, and Rutledge estimates about another 7,000 people come for the sweet corn and pumpkins.
The maze and other attractions will be open to the public from Sept. 24 through Oct. 31.