Corn maze opens for season at Kroll's Fall Harvest Farm in Waukegan, cornfield carved by hand with machetes

WAUKEGAN (WLS) -- At Kroll's Fall Harvest Farm in north suburban Waukegan, the Kroll family just finished carving out a five-acre corn maze by hand - equipped simply with paper and pencil, stirrup hoes, machetes, and wheel barrows.

Ambitious as the maze has become, it all started when Ruthann Carlton Kroll planted a 20-by-100 foot garden.

"I basically wanted my kids to know where their food came from," Ruthann said.

The garden grew every year, until it became more than a garden. It was the early days of the internet, so Ruthann found two farmers on an AOL chatroom and asked for tips on starting a farm.

Eventually the Kroll family added animals and started their corn maze. As the farm expanded, the Kroll children - one daughter and two sons - grew up unlike their schoolmates.

"Going to high school with a class of 1,000 kids and being the only actual farmer was an interesting experience, to say the least," said Tyler Kroll, the oldest son.

Tyler currently manages a different Lake County farm, but plans to take over the Kroll farm once his parents retire.

It's year 19 for the Kroll family's corn maze, which they create with a new theme and design every year. This year's design is a tractor, and the theme is the history of Illinois farming.

"The people who come back to us year after year after year, I think they understand we're just opening our lives, our home to them," Ruthann said.

Kroll's will open for the season tomorrow at 10 a.m. It's free to visit the farm. The corn maze is just seven dollars for adults, five for kids. For more info, visit their website.
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