By Alex Welch
As fall approaches, one
local farm is preparing for season change with activities for
the whole family to enjoy while celebrating a milestone in its
lengthy history in McDonough.
Southern Belle Farm,
located on Turner Church Road, has belonged to Jake Carter and
his family for 75 years. Carter’s great-grandfather purchased
the land they use today back in 1938, but the family was farming
the land well before that date.
In 2006, Southern Belle
began inviting the public to test their navigation skills in the
farm’s corn maze. For eight years now, the farm has incorporated
the maze, hayrides and more into their annual fall festivities.
Jake Carter, one of the
owners of Southern Belle Farm, steps out from the entrance
of the farm’s corn maze. This year’s design celebrates 75
years of Carter ownership.
Photo by Alex Welch
Carter said the Southern
Belle “Maize” starts each year around June or July and features
a new design that he and his father, Jimmy, pick out.
“We’ll harvest the corn
in January, usually to feed our cows. We’ll tear everything out
and let it sit idle. In June or July, we’ll start working the
ground and preparing again for the upcoming season,” said
Carter. “We plant the field and come up with a design we want to
use. We try to pick something of significance each year. Last
year we did ‘Proud to be an American Farmer.’”
This year’s design
includes a 75th anniversary recognition, along with a milk jug
and a strawberry to represent where the farm started and what
activities it’s involved in today. Southern Belle’s
berry-picking season is one of the highlights of the farm in the
Of all the designs to
this date, Carter said his favorite came from a few years ago
when the corn maze featured former Georgia Bulldogs announcer
Larry Munson. Carter, a former walk-on at the university, felt
it praised Munson’s lengthy history with UGA.
“That Munson one was
probably our favorite. I got the chance to know him, and we
thought that’d be a good opportunity to pay tribute to a man
that’s given a lot to that university,” said Carter.
While the maze designs
are intricate, the time it takes to complete amounts to less
than a standard workday. Carter said The Maize Company, which is
based out of Utah, comes in and takes roughly five hours to cut
out the design.
The maze has three
levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Carter said there
are about three or four miles of paths inside, and they include
questions to help guide guests through the corn.
“We have what we call
passports out there. You’ll come to a crossroad in the maze;
there are about 10 of them. If you answer it right, you’ll go
the right way. If you get it wrong, it’ll take you on a path
that takes a little more time,” said Carter.
Southern Belle opens for
the fall on Saturday, Sept. 21. Admission is typically $12 for
visitors ages 3 and up, but the farm will have a special $7.50
deal for the opening weekend to celebrate its anniversary.
Seventy-five years in McDonough is a significant mark for an
industry that isn’t as common in modern society.
“It’s awesome, simply the
fact that 75 years ago this community was a very rural farming
community, and to operate a farm was the norm. To be able to
continue on that tradition and that heritage that our
forefathers set for us in farming, it’s great to be able to
continue to farm in a community that isn’t necessarily rural
anymore,” said Carter.
Fall festivities at
Southern Belle, along with the maze, include hayrides, pig
races, peddle carts, a cow train for the children and several
other activities each weekend. The farm has its own pumpkin
patch where guests can select and cut their own pumpkins, which
are priced by the pound.
Southern Belle is open on Saturdays from 10
a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-6 p.m. Guests can purchase
special $7.50 tickets Sept. 21-22 on opening weekend, and
teachers receive free admission on those two days. The farm’s
fall activities run until Nov. 3. For more information on
Southern Belle Farm, visit