CARIBOU, Maine — During an already short summer, most people in Aroostook County are not ready to start thinking about winter. But in recognition of the season’s growing popularity locally and statewide, the owners of a Caribou farm have chosen winter as the theme for its ninth annual corn maze.
Goughan’s Berry Farm has selected “It’s Snow-Mazing” as this year’s theme and are now inviting members of the public to navigate their way through the six-acre creation, Mark Goughan said earlier this week. He owns the farm with his wife, Gloria.
“We wanted to project some importance to winter recreation, not only to a good and healthy way of living but to the impact it has on our local economy,” he explained. “Our area is blessed with some beautiful natural resources, assets that are free. Open spaces for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, downhill skiing, sled dog racing, ice-skating and [other activities] are great reasons for families to enjoy a healthy hobby.”
That is why the Goughans decided to carve a caricature of a snowmobiling moose into the corn.
Mark Goughan said that the corn was planted in mid-May in both directions to give the canvas a solid six-acre field with which to work. This year was difficult due to the extreme moisture that followed the planting. It caused poor germination, which resulted in uneven corn height.
He said that after he planted the field, it was marked off into 550 20-foot squares. They started cutting shapes into the corn in July, which was difficult due to the amount of rainfall. It took about 40 hours to cut out this year’s maze.
Once again, Goughan said, there are four games available at different points throughout the maze that participants can try to solve while walking through. Complete any one of the four games and win a free Goughan’s farm ice-cream cone.
This year, the family has added a nine-hole agricultural minigolf course, with a second nine-hole course to be completed next year. The very difficult par-21 course features an agricultural theme.
Each year, Mark Goughan designs a new theme for the maze. One year it was a moose theme; another Spuddy, the Maine Potato Board mascot. In 2009, he highlighted the culture, crops and history of Aroostook County with a maze shaped like the region. One year, it was the UMaine black bear.
Mark and Gloria Goughan started the farm in 1976 and grow all kinds of crops, including potatoes and strawberries. Hayrides, pumpkin patch treks and other seasonal events also are popular as well as the farm’s homemade ice cream.
Attendance for the corn maze is dependent on the weather, but a typical season can bring 2,000-2,500 visitors. The farm’s animal barn is open free of charge to children and the merry-go-round is in operation on weekends. The corn maze is now open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Group rates are available with hayrides to the maze or pumpkin field.