Jack Coleman receives the George C. Delp Award from Mary Henry.

WILLOW STREET, Pa. — A farmer who developed one of Lancaster County’s first and best-known agritainment operations was recognized Tuesday for his contribution to the local ag industry.

Jack Coleman of Paradise Township received the George C. Delp Award at the Lancaster Chamber’s agriculture industry banquet.

Coleman, his wife Donna and their children operate Cherry Crest Farm, home of the Amazing Maize Maze and other on-farm attractions that combine fun and education.

The Colemans started the corn maze in 1996, a decade after moving to Lancaster County, and now also raise beef cattle, broilers and 300 acres of crops.

Coleman’s parents didn’t think farming was a wise career choice, so Jack and Donna bought their first farm at age 22 without his parents’ knowledge.

“We were young. We weren’t afraid to take risks,” he said.

His parents warmed to the idea after they saw the young couple’s passion, and Cherry Crest now hosts thousands of visitors each year.

Coleman finds farm tours open children’s eyes to farming. Many have no idea, for example, about the difference between a broiler chicken and a laying hen.

To put the farm’s maintenance needs in perspective, he tells the young visitors that he has 320 tires to keep inflated.

Coleman said he is guided by three principles &tstr; a relationship with Jesus, the drive to work hard and persevere, and a willingness to change.

“There’s so much opportunity in agriculture today. I wish I was young again,” Coleman said.

Coleman is the president of the Farm and Home Foundation of Lancaster County, and a member of the Lancaster County Agriculture Council.

“Jack Coleman is a visionary, creating a new industry and accelerating the education and involvement of our broader community in the work of our agriculture industry,” said award presenter Mary Henry, a district sales manager at MidAtlantic Farm Credit.

Phil Gruber is the news editor at Lancaster Farming. He can be reached at (717) 721-4427 or pgruber.eph@lnpnews.com. Follow him @PhilLancFarming on Twitter.