GODFREY, Ill. – It’s out with corn and in with hemp for a Halloween maze in Godfrey, Illinois. The village’s director of the local parks and recreation department was concerned that when people heard “hemp,” they would think “marijuana.”
There is a very big difference.
For years, the Great Godfrey Maze had been a Halloween corn maze. This year, it’s a maze cut into a field of sunn hemp.
“I don’t know what it is. It caught me off guard. I thought it was going to be corn and it’s not,” Dyllon Proudie, life-long Godfrey resident, said.
Proudie brought Betsy Dixon to see the corn and instead showed her seven acres of sunn hemp. They had never heard of the plant.
“First thing, when I heard that, my mind went to the perception of the public and what they would think,” said Godfrey Parks and Recreation Director Chris Logan. “There’s definitely an association … but this actually looks nothing like a marijuana plant. It has none of the mind-altering chemicals in it.”
Sunn hemp is not even a form of cannabis. It is a legume. There are no buds to eat or smoke to get high. Sunn hemp has yellow flowers and seed pods. Its tall stalks can be used to make twine, paper, and mazes.
Godfrey’s maze is a circus theme. Maze-runners trace the path of a big top, a clown, seal, lion, and elephant, along with the caption: “The Greatest Show in Godfrey.” After nearly 20 years, corn depleted the nutrients in the soil and could not grow tall enough for a maze last year. The COVID pandemic canceled the maze in 2020. So, sunn hemp is just fine in 2022.
“I think a maze is a maze. It looks fun,” Dixon said.
“It’s a big garden if anything. A big garden with yellow roses,” Proudie said.
“A lot of people probably haven’t seen this plant before, let alone a maze made out of it. So, it’s a little different, a little twist on our tradition event and everyone thinks it’s pretty cool,” Logan said.
It’s also a lot cheaper than corn. The sunn hemp maze cost Godfrey less than $2,000, about half the cost of corn.
Sunn hemp also replenishes soil nutrients. So, corn may be back next year. But maybe not.