An elaborate maze draws autumn explorers to the small Northwest Ohio town of Whitehouse.
There's a slight rustling as a gentle fall breeze ripples the dried stalks of corn and then, just when I thought I was alone — maybe even a little lost — Princess Anna, dressed in a long gown with her hair in braids, comes into view.
"Do you need help?" she asks sweetly.
For one quick moment, it's surreal, but I shake aside worries of too much sun, telling myself who else would I expect to encounter in a 16-acre corn maze based on the Disney hit Frozen but one of the film's main characters?
For more than 15 years, Wheeler Farms in Whitehouse — a small town about 30 minutes from Toledo — has turned rural into entertainment with pumpkin patches, buggy rides and, as I've just found out, an intensely detail-oriented corn maze.
Because the sun is setting and shadows play across the 8-foot high maze, I turn on my cellphone's flashlight app and continue on my way. A group of teenagers has bought glow sticks. They whip around these arcs of red and blue lights and ask if I want to walk with them. We laugh as we try to figure out our way, and they explain how the maze changes every year. This year it's in the shape of Frozen characters Anna, Elsa and Olaf the snowman. Their favorite so far? Sarah Palin's head — glasses and all.
"We didn't want to make just any corn maze," Duke Wheeler, one of the owners, tells me after I finally make the last correct turn out of the maze, which was designed by computer and mowed by a tractor following GPS coordinates. Wheeler tells me they wanted costumed characters to wander the Frozen maze to increase the storybook fantasy effect.
If only I'd brought my tiara, I could have been a princess too.
But not to worry. I'm a sucker for agritourism, and there's so much more to do. I pick the largest pumpkin I can find to take home and then stroll into the Wheeler Farms' Butterfly House. Almost immediately, I'm surrounded by floating butterflies in all colors and sizes — pink with black and pale green with red spots. I try to match them all with the provided identification chart. But finally, I just succumb to the languor of it all and rest on a bench near masses of colorful blooms.
I sip the cold bottle of water I'd brought along in my backpack and let the beauty of these fluttering winged insects overtake me.
If You Go