He’s the man with the golden touch — when it comes to corn, that is. Since 2001, George Richardson and his family have dazzled Chicagoans with their intricate maize mazes, billed as the world’s largest, depicting everything from the Beatles to Illinois history. This year’s version at Richardson Farm (October weekend admission: $24 for adults; $18 for kids 3 to 12), an hour and a half northwest of Chicago, celebrates six decades of James Bond films. As in years past, the Richardsons collaborated with the Idaho company MazePlay on the design. “We end up emailing back and forth a dozen times, changing elements until we get to what we think is a very spectacular picture,” Richardson says. It was his idea to include the Monaco casino featured in several Bond films, though the designers never could figure out a way to seat all the 007s around a casino table (MIA: David Niven and George Lazenby, afterthoughts once again).
In the late spring, MazePlay’s designer visited with a gadget that Q would surely admire: a tractor programmed to plant the crop in the pattern of the maze, which Richardson and his wife would later refine with their rototiller. With 10.3 miles of trails over 28 acres, it might look more complex than Goldfinger’s Operation Grand Slam. But there aren’t any dead ends, and it’s easy to get in and out through the maze’s 11 entryways as you try to find all 24 checkpoints. Says Richardson: “We haven’t lost anybody yet.” 909 English Prairie Rd., Spring Grove