A favorite fall activity got a hockey-themed makeover this year in Tennessee.
Lucky Ladd Farms has turned its four-acre corn maze into a tribute to the Nashville Predators hockey team.
The 8-foot-high stalks have been carved with the Predators logo that takes up more than an acre of the maze. The trademark sabertooth pierces through to the center.
Below it an almost acre-wide hockey player shoots a puck out of the maze above silhouettes of the Nashville skyline.
Tennessee’s tri-star symbol sits below the logo.
Curiously in the bottom right section there is a catfish. The southern staple is ritually thrown on the ice at hockey games to bring the team good luck.
Lucky Ladd Farms in Eagleville, Tennessee, has turned its four-acre corn maze into a tribute to the Nashville Predators hockey team
The ideal corn length for cutting is when the stalks are still sprouting, standing between 10 inches and two-feet high. The stalks are cut with a five-foot-wide riding lawnmower
The corn maze has been a farm tradition for nine years, as thousands of families flock to Lucky Ladd each fall to pet the sheep, feed the goats, hop on a hayride and find their perfect pumpkin.
Maze designer Amy Ladd is no stranger to out-of-the-box designs. In the past she has had scarecrows, pumpkins and even Ford Mustangs in her maze.
Ladd told the Tennessean that the idea came to the family after the Predators competed in the finals of the Stanley Cup in June.
They lost the title to the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six.
‘We really enjoyed watching the Predators and how the city came alive through the Stanley Cup run,’ Ladd said.
‘We really wanted to make it more personal for the fans.’
Ladd told the Tennessean that the idea came to the family after the Predators competed in the finals of the Stanley Cup in June. They lost the title to the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six
Ladd said the idea almost didn’t become a reality.
She reached out to the team this summer for their approval, but didn’t hear back right away.
The trend-seeker’s second idea was a solar eclipse theme.
Just as she started Plan B, the Predators returned her call.
They loved the idea.
Ladd’s team, including maze expert and family friend Stanley Wise, finalized the details using software just three weeks before the cutting began.
Wise has been in the maze business since 2003. He used to do it as a service for farmers when he worked a Mississippi State University as a county agent.
When he retired, he continued consulting as a side gig.
He begins by collecting GPS points around the edge of the field. Once he has that, the designer sketches the idea inside the boundaries.
Ladd used to hand-draw her sketches on graph paper but now she designs in Photoshop.
Once she has the images laid out, she takes some parts out and connects others to make it a maze.
‘You have to put the dead ends in and do all the fun stuff that helps you get lost,’ Ladd said.
Then Wise loads it into an agriculture software called Farm Works that helps georeference the design.
Once he has the coordinates for each cut, Wise heads into the field with his handheld computer and a ‘very powerful backpack receiver’ to map the design.
Wise walks the path as someone follows Wise with a lawnmower, cutting miles of winding trails in the cornfield using the GPS system for guidance.
The ideal corn length for cutting is when the stalks are still sprouting, standing between 10 inches and two-feet high.
If the stalks are any shorter it grows back. If they’re longer it can be hard to mow or see over.
The stalks are cut with a five-foot-wide, zero-turn riding lawnmower. A weed eater takes care of the skinnier paths.
For the Predators maze, they did all the work at the end of July so the corn would be just the right height. It took only four hours.
Wise had to do a little research before starting the hockey-themed design.
‘I didn’t even know what Predators were,’ he said. ‘I had to look up what the catfish meant.’
He recently attended a hockey game with his son in Aberdeen, South Dakota and really liked it. He may be a fan in the making.
‘I can see how people can get excited,’ he said. ‘It might be fun to see a Predators game.’
There is at least one set of Predators fans featured in the maze, the crazy crew of Section 303, a famously rowdy section.
‘We’re honored to be part of the design of the Preds’ maze,’ said Mark Hollingsworth, knwon as The Warden of Cellblock 303.
‘The crazies in the Cellblock completely own up to the fact that much of what we do is corny, and we can’t help but stalk the opponents and zebras.’
Hollingsworth enjoys getting a little corny with his puns about the maze.
‘Here’s hoping our Golden Boys can shuck it right down to the cob this season.’
The Predators season has officially started, and the maze is officially open as of Wednesday.