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Locals invited to come get lost in the corn

Lake Knoll Farm corn maze returns for another season

THE CORN CANNON is a highlight for visitors to Lake Knoll Farm. Weston Sager. (click for larger version)
October 13, 2010
ALTON — It's never been so fun to get lost than at the 2.5-acre corn maze at Lake Knoll Farm.

This year, the so-called "Corn Maize" is in the shape of the Prospect Mountain High School (PMHS) Timberwolf, and it poses quite the challenge to all but the most navigation-savvy.

The twists and turns of the maze are hard to follow, but there is a tall bridge tower in the center with an American flag that can help guide your way. There are also some "corn cops" on call to help you if you happen to get truly lost or lose a family member in the dense corn thicket.

It's only the second year for the corn maze at Lake Knoll Farm, but it's already been a big hit with families in the area. For owners Kathy Currier, Mike Currier and Rich Grondin, maintaining the corn maze is a labor of love.

Starting in late May they plant the corn and mark the rough layout for the maze's design. Then after a few weeks and periodically thereafter, they cut back the corn until it forms neat dirt pathways in between the 10-foot-tall corn stalks.

"It's a lot of work," said Grondin.

Not only do they have to maintain the corn itself, they also have to move the 20-foot tall wooden bridge tower every year as part of the agreement made with The Maize, Inc., a Utah-based company that organizes and standardizes corn mazes across the country.

Why did they start running the "Corn Maize"? The answer's simple.

"We thought it'd be pretty cool," said Grondin.

In addition to the corn maze, there is a tractor ride, a refreshment-serving caboose, a couple "fjord horses" to pet and, perhaps best of all, the famous "corn cannon."

The corn cannon is a tripod-mounted air pressure gun that shoots crab apples, golf balls and, of course, corn. It's operated by Aaron Vaillancourt of Alton, and costs one dollar for three shots.

They have a target range set up to test your shooting ability, but given the irregular ammunition, it's difficult to hit much of anything. Those who do get a ticket for a prize up at the caboose.

The corn maze first opened in September and runs through Halloween. Over the next three Fridays the Lake Knoll Farm family will be offering a number of special nighttime events. Tomorrow, Oct. 15, they are having a "Flashlight Night" from 6 to 10 p.m. in the maze. On Oct. 22 and 29, they are hosting scary Halloween-themed "Hauntings in the Maize," also from 6 to 10 p.m.

Due to the dry summer, the corn maze is shorter than last year, according to Grondin. He said last fall's caboose-themed maze had 14-foot-tall corn stalks that created a forest-like feel for participants. Despite the less than ideal growing conditions, they still produced their fair share of cattle corn, which they intend to donate to local farmers at the end of the maze's run.

According to Kathy Currier, they are planning to bring back their interactive pumpkin patch next year, set up horseshoe pits and provide a horse-drawn hayride from the parking lot down to the corn maze.

Currier said that the fall is the time when they open up the farm to visitors from the public. She loves seeing friends and community members participate in the fun.

"It's like having family come to your house everyday," she said.

During the summer, Lake Knoll Farm hosts weddings and other receptions. Currier said Lake Knoll Farm is not a working farm, but it certainly looks that way with chickens wandering about. Instead, Currier hopes Lake Knoll Farm will become an "educational farm" for children to learn more about agriculture and husbandry.

"We enjoy doing it," she said.

Lake Knoll Farm is located at 55 Prospect Mountain Road in Alton. For more information about the Lake Knoll Farm and the "Corn Maize," visit lakeknollfarm.com.

Weston Sager can be reached at 569-3126 or wsager@salmonpress.com

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