Despite COVID-19, Hanes Corn Maze and Tiny Shop Bakery is still open for Halloween fun

By: Sharang Sharma, Contributor

With spooky season now upon us, many look for fun outdoor activities to do before the cold sets in. One particular activity that has become popular during this time is the exploration of corn mazes, such as the Hanes Corn Maze and Tiny Shop Bakery in Dundas.

Hanes Corn Maze is a family-run business that has been operating for 21 years. It began when farmers and current owners Shelley and Kevin Hanes saw a corn maze on the news. Since farming is a difficult business, they decided to build their own four-acre corn maze to help keep a more stable income.

Now spanning between 18 and 22 acres, the Hanes Corn Maze is Canada’s largest corn maze. This year, the maze is 20 acres large. It involves a game where you have to find all 17 checkpoints in the maze, 12 of which are marked on a map. Each of these checkpoints has a special code on it, which you use at a code-breaker board to figure out the maze’s theme for the year. 

This time of year tends to be very busy at the Hanes Corn Maze, with many families visiting for Thanksgiving and Halloween. During Halloween, one can find the maze decorated with pumpkins and various spooky ornaments adorned throughout. Though there aren’t any actors jumping out at those traversing the maze, the dark and eerie atmosphere at night more than makes up for this. On top of that, towards the end of September they also open up the pumpkin patch, where customers can go and pick up a pumpkin in preparation for Halloween.

However as with many businesses, Hanes Corn Maze has had to adjust to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“[In August,] when we first opened for the sunflower maze . . . the restrictions were all lifting quite a bit at that point . . . So we were maxing out at 100 people. But we were finding that we were allowing walk-ins at that point and we noticed that it was starting to get a little bit too much and too many people were showing up and had to be turned away. So when we started to hit the most recent outbreak, again, we really tightened everything up. We reduced the number of people that were going to be allowed in any particular slots,” said Seamus Connors, director of sales and marketing at Hanes Corn Maze.

“So when we started to hit the most recent outbreak, again, we really tightened everything up. We reduced the number of people that were going to be allowed in any particular slots,” said Seamus Connors, the director of sales and marketing at Hanes Corn Maze.

Adapting to COVID-19 hasn’t just been a single large shift for businesses, but constant little changes alongside the ever-evolving situation. For Hanes Corn Maze, that now means guests need an online booking to go to the corn maze and the maximum group size is 10. 

Fortunately, the pandemic has led to some unexpected positive outcomes for Hanes Corn Maze. Connors notes that the maze is more popular this year than it has been in the past. They have welcomed visitors from across the Greater Toronto Area and as far out as Barrie.

“Having an outdoor activity with a really large space is something that everybody’s looking for right now. So it gives them an opportunity to be outdoors, to be active, but also be able to easily stay in their circle and follow social distancing guidelines, ” said Connors. 

“Having an outdoor activity with a really large space is something that everybody’s looking for right now. So it gives them an opportunity to be outdoors, to be active, but also be able to easily stay in their circle and follow social distancing guidelines, ” said Connors. 

Connors also spoke about the importance of community in these times. Many Hanes Corn Maze’s customers are families that return every year, and youth groups tend to use the farm for large events.

For Hanes Corn Maze, it is important to give back to the community that keeps them running. Over the past few years they have donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Tim Hortons Children Foundation. Even when they weren’t sure if they were going to be able to open the corn maze, they continued to stay involved in the community.

 

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“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” – Erol Ozan . . . Took this picture when me and the girls explored the corn maze at Hanes Corn Maze in Dundas, Ontario couple days ago. What a great place to spend some time with your friends and family. . . . You get a clipboard with a map, and your off to discover almost 20 different checkpoints throughout their maze. It took me and the girls about 2 hrs to get through this. 😂 I may or may not have gotten us lost in there a few times 😏 . . . Once you spend some time in the maze, you also get to spend some time in the farm area hanging out with some of their farm friends. Huge pigs, baby pigs, goats, chickens, chicks, and ponies. All of which you can feeeeeeeed 🥰🥰 Me and the girls used that quarter machine for food so many times 😂 . . . . After the animals, we went and paid for a tickets to shoot some pumpkins from a cannon at a giant truck in a field 👍🏻 3 pumpkins $5. We each got 3 pumpkins. Lily went first, then Bella and I went last. Have to sayyyy, it’s pretty darn fun to do. 🎃 . . . Of course before we left, we checked out their bakery. They actually have great covid precautions in place here. Only one family / preferably one person per family, in the bakery. 👏🏻👏🏻 So we got to shop privately. . . . Honestly it was such a great experience. I can’t wait to go back next year. I seen they also have a sunflower maze, so next yearrrr we will be checking that out also 👏🏻👏🏻 @hanessunflowermaze . . . PS Thank you to @jessfree15 for the great recommendation 🥰👏🏻👏🏻♥️ . . . . . #hanescornmaze #hanescornmaze2020 #cornmaze #cornmaze🌽 #cornmazes #fallactivities #fallactivitiesforkids #fall #fallvibes #dundasont #dundas #dundasontario #ontariocanada #ontario_adventures #ontarioadventures #travelgram #seetheworld #beautifuldestinations #beautifulpaths #pathfinder #trails #trailslikethese #trailsfordays #trailsontario #familytime #momlife #canadianmom #momsofinsta #905

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“We have a lot of people from group homes, who reach out to us and say, “I have these 12 boys who’ve had a hard life and we want to come and take them to the maze, but we really can’t afford the sticker price” and the owner is amazing. Like she’ll say, “tell them to just come, don’t worry about paying, just come on by”,” said Connors.

Hanes Corn Maze has managed to adapt itself to our current set of circumstances and continues to be a fantastic activity for the end of autumn. It only goes to show the multiple and incredibly varied ways in which businesses have changed and adapted in these strange times.

Image courtesy of C/O Hanes Corn Maze and Tiny Shop Bakery

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