The chances of getting lost in the Calgary Corn Maze and Fun Farm this weekend are slim.
Despite the maize being only waist-high so far this season, the maze — which is just southeast of the city — opens today.
Owners Mark and Deanna Muchka say it's the worst corn growing season they've seen during their six years in business.
Listen to Karen Moxley's maize report:
"Mother nature is a wildcard. We've had lots of water, which corn loves, but not enough heat, which corn also loves," says Mark.
But the Muchkas say they aren't worried about the tiny stalks.
"At this time of year corn can easily grow half a foot in a day," he says.
The best time of year to visit a corn maze is August, says Deanna.
"It's like a jungle in there, it's lush and green and hard to see."
The maze is a 10-acre labyrinth, and usually takes families about an hour to complete. But the Muchka's can recall incidents when maze-trekkers have taken over three hours to navigate their way to the exit.
"We always say go in with a full stomach and an empty bladder," says Deanna.
"You can eat the corn for survival purposes only," jokes Mark.
The maize planted for the maze is a variety meant for cattle, but is edible for humans.
But despite its tough texture and starchy taste, the Muchkas say they often see curious kids gnawing on the brittle ears.
Come October, the corn is put to good use.
"At the end of our season, it's cut down, bailed and then the corn is hauled away for cattle," says Deanna.
First responder theme
Each year the Muchkas choose a new design for the layout of the maze. This year the pathway is a tribute to Calgary's first responders.
"We have a local heroes theme this year. So we have a helicopter, a fire truck and a police car carved into the maze. And the pathway spells out "our local heroes," says Mark.
For opening weekend, all first responders will get free admission to the maze and proceeds from visitors throughout the weekend will go to help with flood relief.