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Alumni of the Corn

October 04, 2018

Smack in the middle of the cotton fields just south of San Angelo, you’ll find one of the top 10 corn mazes in Texas – and this year it includes a huge shape of the ASU logo.

Circle S Acres Logo Graphic The Circle S Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch is in its third year of operation and is a labor of love for Angelo State alumni Chad and Lindsey Schaertl, both former standout ASU athletes. Chad was a conference champion thrower for the Rams track and field team, and Lindsey (Leatherman) was an all-conference Rambelles basketball player. They got the idea for their corn maze operation from the At’L Do Farms Corn Maze in Shallowater near where Lindsey grew up in the Texas Panhandle.

“I went there after we first got married,” Chad said, “and I’d never seen anything like it. What I really liked is that there were moms and dads playing with their kids rather than texting on their phones. They were making memories, and I thought it would be a perfect thing for the San Angelo area. It’s a place for parents and their kids to go be outside and enjoy each other.”

“It has also been good for us,” Lindsey added, “because our kids enjoy working with us. It’s something we can all do together as a family.”

An overhead shot of the ASU logo in the 2018 Circle S Corn Maze An overhead shot of the ASU logo in the 2018 Circle S Corn Maze The Corn Maze covers four acres on the Schaertl’s property in nearby Wall. They plant the corn in July, and the maze is open yearly from the last weekend in September to the first weekend in November. Right next to the maze is the Pumpkin Patch with its wide variety of pumpkins, a huge pumpkin trebuchet (catapult), a kid’s playground, and a decorative pond and waterfall.

Other available activities include corn cannons, a barrel train, pumpkin bowling and wall ball mazes. First opened in 2016, the Circle S Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch is already ranked among the “10 Best Corn Mazes in Texas” by Best of AmericanTowns, and attendance doubled from about 6,000 people in 2016 to over 12,000 last year. Besides being open to the public, it is also a popular field trip destination for elementary schools, home school groups and retirement communities.

The Circle S Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch is now open for 2018 – and YOU are invited.

How do you construct the maze?

Chad Schaertl Chad Schaertl Chad – “It’s planted in a graph format, like graph paper. We plant the corn north and south, east and west, so there are lines of corn. When the corn is about a foot tall, we go in and spray it in the pattern we want using GPS and measurements based off the graph design.”

Lindsey – “You take the graph paper design and create the exact same graph in the field. You create the grid and then go through with spray paint to mark the curves and weird-shaped sections. Then for the lines, you count the corn rows as you are walking and spraying. It’s an intricate process.”

What can you do in the Pumpkin Patch?

Lindsey Schaertl Lindsey Schaertl Lindsey – “It’s a great place for family photos. Parents will bring their kids out and take photos of them in the Pumpkin Patch, and that is free. We don’t charge for folks to come out and take photos in the Pumpkin Patch or around the pond and waterfall.”

Chad – “The pumpkins are also for sale. We also do a porch decorating contest every year on Facebook for people who buy at least $50 worth of our pumpkins. We give them a sign that has to be included in the porch decoration. Contestants post pictures of their porch on our Facebook page, and the picture with the most ‘likes’ wins a $100 gift card.”

Where did you get the ideas for the other activities?

Chad – “Some of them are our ideas and some are from other corn maze businesses. We mimicked the corn cannons because they are easy and fun. This year, we added the barrel train that is pulled behind a riding lawnmower. It’s for the littlest kids. We wanted to make sure there was something for kids of all ages. The Pumpkin Patch just screams, ‘Fall.’ You’ve got to have a pumpkin patch because it’s just a lot of fun.”

Lindsey – “The pumpkins all come from Floydada, Texas, which is the pumpkin capital of the U.S.A. I was born and raised there, and I’ve been around pumpkins my whole life. So to open a corn maze, you’ve got to have the pumpkins, too.”

Has the maze worked out how you hoped?

Lindsey – “It has really exceeded our expectations. We’re pleased with the support we’ve gotten and that people are willing to come out and enjoy all the activities. We’ve been pleased with everything that has happened.”

Chad – “We’ve also been able to keep the costs down. This is for kids, and we want parents to be able to bring their kids out here, no matter their income level, and have a good time. I was worried about having to raise prices to cover the cost of our employees as we’ve grown, but we haven’t had to do that because so many people have come to enjoy our activities.”

Are you going to keep the maze going?

Lindsey – “Absolutely, this is definitely something we want to keep doing. We enjoy it as a family, and it’s something for the families in our community to do together. Hopefully, we’ll be doing this for many years to come.”

Chad – “We take the money we make each year and put it back into the maze to make it bigger and better the next year. So, barring any catastrophes, we’ll be around for a long time.”