FARMINGTON, Maine — The fifth annual Amazing Corn MAiZE at Sandy River Farms features a design commemorating the University of Maine at Farmington’s 150th anniversary this year.
The MAiZE, at 755 Farmington Falls Road about two miles outside Farmington on Route 2 east, opens Saturday, Sept. 28, and continues weekends through Oct. 27. Columbus Day is a big day too, farm owner Herbert “Bussie” York said. About 5,000 people visit the maze each year, he added.
York, like many local families, has a connection with the university. It prompted the family to take an idea to the university and work with Kelly Dodge, vice president of university advancement, on the design for this year’s maize.
“What an awesome gift to UMF and the community and another way to celebrate UMF’s 150th anniversary,” UMF President Kathryn Foster said Tuesday.
She plans to take family and friends there when they visit this fall, she said.
University students have more interest in agriculture, local foods and natural resources, York said. It seemed appropriate to honor the school’s anniversary, he added.
York’s mother, Lila, graduated from the former Farmington Normal School around 1914, he said. His father, Linwood, delivered milk and cream to the college in the 1930s.
From his Hillside Jersey Farm on Titcomb Hill, Linwood York made early morning deliveries for 14 years to the school. That was in the days when a milkman appeared with glass bottles after keeping the milk cool on ice. Ice was cut and stored in the farm’s icehouse, Bussie York said.
York, a graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, appreciates the impact the university has on local agricultural life.
He contracts with a maze company from Utah to design the annual corn maze. The company fly a crew here in June and put the design on the ground, he said.
The cornfield is planted in a crisscross fashion. York first plants north to south and then turns around the same day and plants east to west. It’s like a checkerboard with 30-inch paths. It helps the company design a 20-foot grid system.
In June, the corn is nearly knee-high providing good visibility that allows the company to put down red paint and then use machines to cut the pathways of the design.
“The Sandy River Corn MAiZE hopes to challenge the wits of those seeking to find the one exit from their mind-boggling puzzle. Though the correct pathway can be walked in only 15-minutes, most wandering maze-goers will require about one hour to travel more than three miles of twists, turns and decision points,” according to a release.
That’s not all the fun, York explained. There’s a pumpkin patch, hayride and cow train for youngsters. There are also animals to feed.
New this year, a 4-H member will bring his oxen and give cart rides. He’ll also talk about how he trains the animals.
For older children and adults, a log roll, reminiscent of log drives on the river, is available, he said.
A 10-foot log about 2 feet high will roll in place allowing people to see how long they can balance and stay on, he said.
There’s also a food trailer with light lunches available.
A UMF senior class has reserved the maze for a midnight walk and the United Way is bringing 100-plus people for a day adventure. York works with groups on reduced rates.
The maze is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 778-3835 or visit the website at www.sandyriverfarms.com.