1. How long have you been doing the corn maze?
Our first maze was in 1999. It was fairly simple with straight lines, and a few twists. In 2000, we decided to get more complicated and put a picture into the field.
2. How do you come up with the ideas for the designs each year?
It’s something different each year. Typically, we design it during the winter months around January or February. My parents add their ideas, and really if anyone has a pull toward a certain theme, we can do that. Usually, we just kind of get a feel for it. We throw out a bunch of ideas, and one bubbles up to the top. We keep a list of ideas. Sometimes, a customer will say they have an idea for us, and we’ll put it on the list.
3. How big is the maze?
The total maze sits on eight acres. As far as the length of the pathway, I’m not sure. We’ve had an eight acre maze for quite a few years. That seems to be the magic size — long enough to be a challenge but not so long it drags on.
4. How long does it take to make the maze?
It kind of varies because during the time we are cutting the maze — we hand hoe it all — we are out doing that during strawberry season. So, it depends on how many people I can get to help. Cutting it out takes about a week to a week and a half. I have the maze on a piece of paper, and we flag the design, and then it’s just like connecting the dots. We start cutting when the corn is about a foot tall so we can see the flags. If the corn gets too tall, you can’t see the flags.
5. What kind of equipment do you use?
We use the map of the maze design. We use flags and hoes. We use weeding hoes and manpower. We’re pretty low tech.
6. What is the process from start to finish in making a corn maze?
First, you get the idea. I design the maze over the winter, and I look up pictures that go with the theme. I do it on the computer, on Photoshop. Basically, that allows me to size the pictures and move them around to make it look good. Then, I connect the images together to create the flow of traffic through the maze. Then, in the spring we go out and flag it and cut it out. We usually have to go back in to cut it again a few weeks later because some of the corn will regrow. We hoe out weeds the rest of the summer. Then, right before we have customers come through, we go back over it with our hoes, but we use the handle part. Because the paths are open, the corn likes the light and leaves will grow into the path. So, we knock down those leaves so customers have a clear path to walk on, and they aren’t getting hit in the face with leaves.
7. What’s the most challenging part?
Probably the most challenging part is the design. Cutting it isn’t too bad if you have a good group helping you, but in designing it, you want to make it hard enough to challenge people, but not too hard so that it is pure frustration.
8. When is the corn maze open?
It runs from Sept. 21 to Oct. 27. We are open on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. with the last group started at 7 p.m. Our cider press is open until Thursday, Oct. 31. People can check out the hours and directions on our website at www.suterproduce.com.