LARNED — Larned Pride organizers received the Larned city council’s blessing to proceed with a plan to add a corn maze to Camp Pawnee in 2012. Organizers believe a corn maze will be another tourist attraction that will enhance Camp Pawnee several weeks in the fall.
“We’ve started working with the travel and tourism committee to see what else we could do,” said Angie Murray, Larned Pride committee. “We started researching corn mazes and discovered they are tourist attractions. It’s good family fun.”
A six-acre tract near Camp Pawnee would be developed with corn or a similar crop maze. Murray said the corn maze will provide outdoor educational opportunities for school-age children. She said there is also some interest from Fort Hays State University personnel.
“We are always looking for local venues to take students to,” said Jennifer Anderson, assistant superintendent for USD 495. “We’ve had to limit our field trips because of budget cutbacks.”
The corn maze would be listed on web sites that are connected with pumpkin patches. Local and state tourism web sites would also list the Camp Pawnee corn maze.
Murray said the operation of the corn would be turned over to local civic groups as a fundraiser. Other attractions that could be added are a playground, dunk tank, pony rides, face painting, barrel train ride, petting zoo, hayrack rides and concessions.
Vicki Gillett, a Larned Tourism committee member, said her committee agreed to contribute $5,000 to jump start the project. The Larned Tourism committee has a budget from revenue from hotel room taxes and Camp Pawnee overnight trips.
Murray has commitments for several aspects for the Camp Pawnee Corn Maze.
Ag Producers will provide seed. Eakin Construction will provide sand. The Pawnee County Co-op will provide fertilizer. John Haas will till and plant the crop. Charlie Has will deed a commercial hayrack trailer with built-in seating. A supplemental grant has been applied for through the Golden Belt Foundation.
The Pawnee County commissioners own the title on the 36.6-acre property and are responsible for maintenance at Camp Pawnee, west of Larned on 8th Street.
Organizers believe the potential for development is unlimited at Camp Pawnee. New picnic tables, barbecues and equipment are being added.
Camp Pawnee, between the Santa Fe Trail Center and Fort Larned National Historic Site, offers scenic nature walks and fishing along the banks of the Pawnee River. A camp building is used for family gatherings and reunions and has electrical facilities.
Camp Pawnee was founded in 1930 by the Southwest Kansas Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Kiwanis International, Lions International and Rotary International have provided support.
Larned Pride members helped build the Doerr-Vernon Splash Pad, established a community garden/orchard and farmer’s market, and assisted with a roller-skating program.