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News & Events
Who Created the Hayride and Corn Maze for Seniors’ Enjoyment?
The fall season offers many outdoor events that active older adults living in retirement communities like Westminster Village can enjoy. But have you ever wondered how some activities got started? You might look at any of the Westminster Village activity calendars and think, who first thought that knitting would be a great way to make something to wear? And, how were the games poker and bingo created? Or you might think about fall traditions and wonder who first thought that it would be ok to go on a hayride, create a corn maze or blow up a giant balloon that would carry people.
Hayrides have been a part of the farming, Midwestern culture for a long time. But, who first thought if it and why? If you look for the origin of hayrides, you won’t find much. Wikipedia defines the hayride as a “recreational ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor, horses or a truck, which has been loaded with hay or straw for comfortable seating.” Also known as a hayrick, people in America and Canada enjoy this leisure activity.
But when did it start and why? Researching hayrides on the internet doesn’t result in much information. You might find that the word was first used in 1896 or that that the first hayride occurred in Kansas. You’d also learn that hayrides today are primarily used by for-profit organizations like farms and orchards. But still, wouldn’t you like to know why someone suddenly thought riding in a wagon filled with straw would be fun?
Sometimes, new ideas are simply accidental, like when an inventor created the “slinky” instead of a meter designed to monitor power on naval battleships. The guy who was working with silicon to make better tires and boots, added boric acid and came up with something that no one could use anywhere else. The substance became the toy, “Silly Putty”.
Straw and hay are traditionally cut in the fall after the crops are harvested. Maybe some farmer was transporting a load of straw to a neighbor after hours one night. He had to take his kids with him because there wasn’t enough money for a babysitter. He saw how much fun they were having and came up with the idea for the hayride.
You can find much more information on a corn maze because farmers have been creating mazes for hundreds of years. Farmers and landowners created mazes out of hedges in England and other European countries ages ago. Here in the United States, the corn maze has become a fall tradition that brings tourists to farms. People pay to walk through a maze created by cutting patterns in a corn field. The goal is to get out without getting stuck in a path that has no exit. It’s a great alternative to an afternoon in the wellness center on the treadmill!
Corn mazes are also traditionally created after the fall harvest, but require a great deal of planning and execution. There are even companies whose entire purpose is designing and installing corn mazes.
Westminster Villagers can find sites in West Lafayette for both activities
Hayrides can be a great way to connect with friends and family. You can plan for a group or a few friends and family to go an evening hayride. In West Lafayette, some farms offer hayrides during the daytime as transportation to some other area of the farm like a pumpkin patch or the corn maze. Some use the hayride as a way to tour the farm. You might have to drive outside the area to find other opportunities. The same farms probably also provide a corn maze. These landscape puzzles can be fun and a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.
Just as another note, farms and area festivals often offer carriage rides and sleigh rides as the fall turns into winter and snow begins to fall. Just be sure to bundle up with hats, scarves, and mittens to stay warm. You might also take a warm throw with you, too.
So, get out of the house and enjoy a great day down on the farm!
-Elaine of the Westminster Village Blog Team