Corn maze celebrates Leafs' Stanley Cup win of 50 years ago
New Brunswick farms pays tribute to 100-year-old hockey club in annual corn maze near Florenceville-Bristol
It started out as a joke about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When the Montreal Canadiens marked their centennial season in 2009, the Hunter Brothers farm celebrated the team by carving its logo into a corn maze.
The family took some ribbing for it from Maple Leafs fans, so Chip Hunter promised that in 2017, he'd carve the logo of their team into the family cornfield to celebrate the 50 years since Toronto last won a Stanley Cup.
The cornfield tribute to the Leafs would only go ahead if they didn't win another cup in the meantime, which of course they didn't do.
So this year, the Maple Leafs dominate the family's annual corn maze near Florenceville-Bristol.
"We didn't want to be too negative about it, I guess, and it helped that they were also celebrating their 100th season," said Chip's son, Leigh Hunter.
"We decided to give the Leafs fans a break."
Annual corn maze
Hunter Brothers farm creates a corn maze, cut to a different theme, every year.
Themes of the 17 mazes carved so far have included the Beatles, Harry Potter, and important moments in Canadian history, such as the 400th anniversary of Acadie in 2004, and the 2005 centennial of Alberta and Saskatchewan's joining Confederation.
Sports themes are popular. After watching the Toronto Blue Jays game in 2015 in which Jose Bautista famously flipped his bat, the family cut a corn maze the next year in the shape of the slugger, along with the team's logo and the cheer "OK Blue Jays."
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Leigh said the family starts planning the mazes in the winter, then hires a survey engineer to figure out on a computer how the image can be placed on the field.
Planting starts in late June, and once the corn grows, survey engineers lay out the design on the field, using paint and GPS co-ordinates. A crew from the farm then removes the corn to create the design and the paths through the maze.
This year, the farm changed things up a little and hired a graphic designer to draw the maze, Leigh said.
"We decided to go all out and test the whole process a little bit more thoroughly," he said.
Getting to know the farm again
Leigh's dad, Chip, said the maze is the cornerstone of the family farm's annual fall festival and stays open from early September to late October.
Aside from creating the maze, which includes questionnaires and games for those walking through, the Hunter family also sets up pig races, straw structures, a corn house and an area for children to feed their animals.
The idea of the open farm day started in the 1990s, Chip said. Farmers came up with entertaining ways to get people visiting their properties and becoming acquainted with farming again — something many people are now far removed from.
"The idea back then was definitely 'show people where your food comes from,'" Chip said.
It becomes a whole different experience for a child when they are on the farm, rather than seeing it in a book.- Chip Hunter
"And a big part of the corn maze and the entertainment part of it was to encourage schoolchildren to visit.
"It becomes a whole different experience for a child when they are on the farm, rather than seeing it in a book or hearing people talking about it."
Leigh said the Leafs maze will certainly get people talking. But celebrating the hockey team only seemed fair, especially after the Montreal corn tribute.
"This kind of made up for it," Chip said.
With files from Pat Richard