Wise County's field of screams

GREENWOOD -- Even its designer admits she gets lost in the Get Lost Maze.

"Whenever I'm cutting it, I'm paying attention to where I'm going but not memorizing everything," said Kriston Wilson, who for the fifth time in nine years has created a massive maze in one of the Wilson family's Wise County maize fields. Getting lost in it is part of the fun.

"After going through it two or three times to trim leaves and make sure the stalks are out of the pathways so nobody trips, I pretty much have it down," Wilson said.

She'd better. One of her jobs is leading people out when they give up on finding their own way.

About 11 miles north of Decatur on Farm Road 51, the field near the Greenwood community is roughly the size and shape of a football field. Dozens of paths twist and turn through the 18,000 square feet of thick, tall, plants, sometimes curving back on themselves or just stopping.

From the air -- or in the photo on the back of the official lime-green Get Lost Maze T-shirt -- the patterns look like a crop circle.

But don't try to use that photo as a map; it's a pattern from a previous maze, Wilson said.

"That just wouldn't be fun, now, would it?" she said.

Last year the family had to cancel the maze because of the drought, but this year "we finally put in irrigation."

Wilson designs each year's maze on her computer. This year, she and her friend, Brittany Smith, hacked it out with machetes.

It has been an every-other-year family tradition that Wilson is determined to do yearly.

"We don't make much money from it," she said. "It's fun, and the kids, especially from around Wise County, have come to expect it. I get to spend time with my friends working on it, with my dad planting it and with my family running it."

Ricky Wilson helps his daughter plan the planting to make sure the maize is thick enough.

Grandparents Mary Ella and Poppy Wilson come out every night the maze is open for business ostensibly to play cards, "but mainly to check up on us," their granddaughter said.

Smith and other helpers, like Wilson's boyfriend, Chris Bunch, help sell tickets, snacks and beverages and stand in strategic spots to help guests maneuver the maze.

After dark on Oct. 27-28 and 30-31, about 20 more friends show up in costumes to slip into the field as "scarers," Wilson said. "There are no walls. They can come at you from any angle to spook you, but they won't touch you."

To the untrained eye, the dark-green maize stalks look like corn. And some of the actors dress as characters from Stephen King's Children of the Corn, Wilson said.

"There's a graveyard, fog machine, and people dressed as ghouls and other scary things walking through the maze," she said.

"It can actually get pretty frightening. It's the aspect of trying to find your way out and wondering what's around the next corner and knowing that you have to go around that corner."

Once Halloween passes, the maize will be razed and turned into treats of sorts.

"We salvage what we can for the cattle," Wilson said.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans