Rantoul ranch honors state's 200th

Rantoul ranch honors state's 200th

RANTOUL — This year’s Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch corn maze celebrates Illinois’ bicentennial.

Julie Hardy, who with husband Mark operates the reindeer ranch southwest of Rantoul, said the Illinois Bureau of Tourism contacted them to see if the Hardys would create a maze to honor the state’s 200th birthday.

Julie Hardy credits her husband’s artistic ability for creation of the maze.

“Mark got to work on it,” she said. “The artist canvas is a 10-acre L-shaped field. He had to create a design that fits (and) had enough miles of trails (and) dead ends to lose and confuse participants.”

Julie Hardy said there are people who make navigating the maze an annual event and want a challenge.

“This maze definitely does the job,” she said. “Even the creator of this maze admits he got lost the first couple of times out there.”

When viewing the maze from above, one has to look close at the design to see the shape of the state. At the bottom is a riverboat. The steam from the boat creates the image of Abraham Lincoln on the left and a Native American on the right.

The shape of the state cuts through the middle of the designs up to the Chicago skyline.

Julie Hardy said the Native American depicted in the maze is not Chief Illiniwek.

“We thought it would be inappropriate to leave out the first settlers in our state,” she said. “As with all of our mazes, your goal is not only to find your way out, but to locate eight hidden checkpoints, all of which represent some unique attractions in our state.”

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