P.E.I.'s amazing corn mazes and where to find them
'We always get a few that panic ... we will go in to rescue them'
Take a field trip this fall to discover one of several P.E.I. corn mazes of varying degrees of difficulty.
From east to west across the Island, here are a selection of corn mazes to puzzle, educate and entertain you. Don't forget to take some corn home for dinner!
Belfast Corn Maze
The Chuckwagon Farm Market and Belfast Corn Maze, about half an hour east of Charlottetown, boasts what it says is P.E.I.'s largest corn maze at three hectares or eight acres.
"It's the most difficult maze we've had," says one of the owners, Trisha Viaene. It takes about 400 hours to build the maze from the spring to opening day, she added.
The family built its first maze back in 2010 but unfortunately just five days in, a hurricane hit and flattened the creation.
"We took that as probably a blessing, because we were not really ready for the crowds," Viaene said.
Belfast has a different design every year and Viaene said customers even ask them to make it more difficult. They've even attended a corn maze conference in North Carolina to learn more about everything from construction to marketing.
"We also saw what other farmers were doing with their yards and fields with having added attractions, jumping pillows, pumpkin patches and hay rides," Viaene said.
Belfast has added several attractions over the years including a giant slide, pedal cart tractors, a street hockey rink, a tube maze built from culverts, corn cannons and more. At the Farm Market there's local produce, products and a restaurant.
It takes about an hour and a half to walk through the labyrinth.
"We always get a few that panic," Viaene said. "We give them our phone number and we will go in to rescue them. You really cannot get lost, it is the only corn field here. You may end up walking in circles but most will figure that out and take a different route."
They don't allow children under 13 in with out an adult, though. "It can get very intimidating for the young — the corn is 12 feet tall in places," Viaene said.
Admission to the maze and Farm Yard is $13 per person, ages four and up, with discounts for groups. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends only — but breakfast starts at the market at 8:30 a.m.
MacKenzie Produce, Stratford
It's the second year MacKenzie Produce in Stratford has built a corn maze — Tania and Greg MacKenzie say their customers suggested it.
"Our farm is extremely busy and there's no fun to the cold crop part of it," says Tania.
"We started growing pumpkins about 10 years ago to get our kids involved on the farm as a fun way to work!" she said — the couple has three children.
Since then the kids have helped out with the pumpkin harvest and selling, and the MacKenzies started the corn maze to keep the kids involved.
"Ours is a little different than others cause we have our blue bus in the maze, sandboxes and photo ops," said Tania. The bus contains children's activity sheets and colouring books, dominoes and other games. They've removed every second seat and put in tables.
The MacKenzies create the maze without a GPS, which they admit is a lot of work. After seeding, cutting the path and killing the corn in the path, they spend an hour every day before it opens to make sure the maze has no extra corn hanging or "animal" friends in it, they say.
There are also corn fun facts posted throughout the maze. "We want to educate people on where their food comes from," MacKenzie said.
The maze is $7 per person or $30 for a family of 6 or fewer. Those three years old and under are admitted free. If you save your bracelet you can come back again for just $3. Hours are Monday to Friday 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Kool Breeze Farms, Summerside
The maze at Kool Breeze Farms in Summerside is just over two hectares (five acres) and has been an attraction for a decade.
The theme of this year's maze honours 150 years of the 4-H farm organization.
When you reach the centre of the maze, there's a platform where you can view the nearby Summerside Harbour and the farm, which grows and sells pumpkins and gourds, corn, flowers and more.
"It's pretty cool and a lot of fun," said Chrysta Campbell of Kool Breeze, noting the maze attracts people to the farm.
Admission is $8 per person, $25 for a family of 4 with each additional person $5, and groups of 10 or more pay $5 per person. Hours are 10 a.m. to dusk daily.
When the maze closes at the end of October, the corn is cut down and sold to local farmers for cattle feed, so nothing goes to waste.
Compton's Berry Patch, Summerside
Compton's Berry Patch and Vegetable Stand in Summerside has been in business for more than 60 years and just created its first-ever corn maze, which opens Sunday. The maze is slightly larger than two hectares or five acres.
Owner Matt Compton drew the design out on graph paper and then "scaled it — well almost — to size." Note the N and S in "Comptons" fall around the corner.
Compton cut out the design with his tractor and mower, using GPS and auto-steer in the tractor to keep the lines straight and equal in length.
"Although my design may be simpler in design and in turn maybe less challenging, I hope that I will appeal to a broader demographic of people," Compton said.
Compton decided to make the maze to bring younger generations to his farm.
"They are the future buyers of my product! If they know who I am they are more likely to make the extra effort to buy from our own market," he said.
Compton's charges $5 per person or $18 for a family of four (two adults, two children), additional family members $3. Group rates of 10 or more are $3 per person, and children under four years old get in free.
There's also a tiny maze for small children built with straw bales next to the big maze.