SUFFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio - It was the day we took off in the Goodyear Blimp. My camera crew and I were profiling the pilot. Out the blimp window, below us was the entire United States. Really. An actual outline of 48 states with "God Bless America" carved in a cornfield.
I said, "We gotta find that place." And so we did.
What we found was more than a giant maze cut into acres of corn. There were kids whooping it up in a farmer's home-grown amusement park. The landowner said the corn maze was over the hill.
"Slow down, brother. I'll get you there soon enough," he said. At Rufener's Farm in Suffield Township in Portage County, Ohio, they call this agritourism.
"To offer more so that they can bring their families so they have something to do on the farm," said Lana Rufener of Rufener's Hilltop Farm.
At Rufener's store, they were selling farm produce -- enough to keep you fed for months.
Outside, someone shouted, "Hey, put the kids on the train."
"Train?" I questioned. Yes, friend, they had a train of sorts.
On Rufener's spread, there is farming and fun. Nothing corny about farm living on the upswing. I bellowed again about that corn maze I eyeballed from the air, and was politely told, "keep yer shirt on; you'll get there."
"Just round up the whole group and place them in two wagons," said Lana Rufener.
We all hitchhiked for the hayride to the corn maze. The kiddies and the grownups, too. Somebody spotted a pumpkin patch, which caught the younger set's attention. They unloaded by the bushel baskets, scampering headlong pumpkins.
You know when I was kid, my dream was to find a pumpkin patch with a couple of pumpkins in it. And there, I got a jack-o-lantern for my front porch.
We all wedged back into the wagons with pumpkins and giggles. If you've never been hay-riding, you've missed something.
And then, over the rise, it appeared. A mysterious corn maze inviting us in. We won't get lost. We'll stay together and use the roadmap. Alvin Rufener made this maze, using GPS and a computer hogtied to a tractor, cutting out states shapes. We trampled in at Texas, mosied into Missouri and ambled into Ohio.
"So the rest of the nation is all in there -- all the way to that tree line," said Alvin Rufener of Rufener Hilltop Farm. "It goes from that tree line to the top of the hill."
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye. But there's something else happening in this corn maze and it is patriotism.
Alvin Rufener asked, "You love this country, don't you?"
"Yes," I responded. "I can tell that. Anybody who writes 'God Bless America' on his farmland so that it can be seen by airplanes above."
"Some people said I might get in trouble for that," said Rufener.
"How could you get in trouble for that?" I asked.
"I don't know," responded Rufener. "I don't think you can get in trouble."
Into his eight acres of Portage County cornfield, Rufener carved a nation, harvesting a picture of our land. Want to see America? Open your eyes. It's right where you are. And next to you.
Rufener Hilltop Farm sells farm produce. You can find it in Suffield Township in Portage County.
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