By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — It’s a maze like no other, complete with rows and rows of corn stalks and only a few correct paths leading out.
Elwood Orchards’ corn maze is up and running for the season, offering visitors a change to trek through 14 acres of tall stalks, following twisting and turning trails.
The maze is one of the largest around, a true family affair when it comes to planning and creating it every year.
This year, Wayland Elwood said it’s bigger than ever.
His family has run the farm on High Range Road since 1910, selling produce like apples, vegetables and other seasonal items.
In 2005, it was time to add a corn maze to give an extra boost to the autumn season. That first maze was only about 2 acres in size.
It’s not an easy task to make a maze.
This year, it took 800,000 cow corn seeds to create the massive maze. Elwood said in early June it’s time to cut and pull the rows after making an official maze design on graph paper to get the final product.
That takes up to about a week, Elwood said.
Family members get involved in the planning and eventually test the maze to make sure it works and paths are clear for visitors.
“There are also emergency exits on both sides,” Elwood said.
He said this year’s stalks are high and perfect for the maze.
“Cow corn grows taller and it’s been a great growing season,” he said. “The weather has been perfect for tall cow corn.”
Elwood said it should take someone up to 25 minutes to navigate through the maze.
“But sometimes it will lead you around in a circle,” he said.
Linda McMahon and Marc LeBrun were wandering through the maze on Sunday afternoon, hoping to find the right way out.
“We are still looking,” LeBrun said.
LeBrun has been coming to the Elwood farm for the maze since his children were little.
Alex Spencer and his father, Jeff, went through once and were going to head back in.
It took father and son about 35 minutes the first time. They were also excited about the possibility of doing the maze at night next month.
Another corn maze is also ready in Derry at J&F Farms. That family farm’s maze is about 8 acres in size.
Farm staff estimate that maze could take up to 30 minutes to complete. Along the way, visitors can enjoy unique scenery like animal silhouettes and even an old toilet taking up a special spot along the paths.
“People get a kick out of that,” said David Murphy of J&F Farms.
Both farms also form a maze partnership when the season draws to a close.
Elwood said once the maze season is over, J&F will send workers over to Londonderry to help dismantle his maze and will take the corn back to Derry to feed the farm’s cows.
“It’s certainly not wasted,” Elwood said.
Elwood Orchards’ corn maze at 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry, is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9, children 5 and younger are admitted free. In October the maze will also be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 10 p.m.
J&F Farms, 120 Chester Road, Derry, opens its maze seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $4; children 3 and under are admitted free. The maze remains open through the end of October.