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Corn maze now open

By Abby Schlueter

On Thursday, a popular Champaign County fall destination opened up for the season. Hardy's Reindeer Ranch provides a unique experience for children and adults alike. Their most popular attraction though, is undoubtedly their giant 10 acre corn maze.

This year, the corn maze is themed after a dragon and a fairy. Past themes have included a steam engine, an astronaut and rocket, and a cowboy to celebrate 25 years of the WIXY radio station. The maze includes 8 checkpoints to encourage guests to explore it fully. Those brave enough can attempt Moonlight Madness by navigating the maze at night with only a flashlight to guide them.

Each year's new design continues to draw guests in, even those who have visited previously. The accomplishment of reaching every checkpoint is a feat to strive for, especially to locals. Many families split up and compete to see who can finish the maze the fastest. Though some are happy to just experience the ranch without the added competition.

The ranch has many other activities as well, including the titular reindeer which can be seen during the hay ride around the property or on the special reindeer tours which allow guests the opportunities for photos.

Hardy's was founded in 1995 with these reindeer as their sole attraction to draw customers to their Christmas tree farm. Since then, Mark and Julie Hardy have grown their operation to include a pumpkin patch, pedal cart track, paintballgallery, and a bonfire area.

Each year, Hardy's is a popular destination for groups in the county and beyond. These groups consist of school children, church youth, company employees, and birthday parties. Many field trips are planned to Hardy's with children able to relax from school and meet reindeer instead. These groups account for a large number of Hardy's guests on weekdays, but weekends show more families coming out to make memories.

Hardy's is located 15 miles north of Champaign and will be open until December 28th with hours of operation varying each month. For more information visit

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