August 31, 2006 at 6:58 a.m.
The addition of two new attractions to the area this year may help those who are feeling a little depressed that summer is almost over.
Two area cornfields – one in rural Lindstrom and one in Shafer – are set to become fields of fun for young and old alike this fall.
The Shafer Corn Maze opened its “doors” Aug. 18, while a corn maze at the Rongitsch farm known as Tom’s Pumpkin Patch will open for business Sept. 30 and run through the end of October.
The Miron family’s corn maze in Shafer, located on Hwy. 8 off of Quinlan Lane, is open five days a week.
It is run by Dana Miron, along with husband Larry and children Justin, Elliott, Josh and Tiffany, who all help out.
Dana Miron said the maze, designed to look like a moose with the words Minnesota Moose and the Channel 45 TV logo, is very challenging.
“People like it,” she said. “I like when they come out hollering and excited that they made it.”
The maze was professionally designed by mazeplay.com. The web site features photos and information about the Shafer maze.
Miron came up with the moose idea because she enjoys wildlife and thought adding the words “Minnesota Moose” would be neat for their first year design.
Despite this year’s drought conditions earlier in the growing season, the 10-acre field used for the maze is full of healthy, green stalks that are easily six to eight feet tall, secluding maze-goers from outside noises and discouraging “peeking” through the stalks to see another route to take.
The maze is divided into two sections – one includes 1.3 miles of trail and the other has 3.5 miles of trail. The typical length of time spent in the two is between one-half hour for the small section and one hour for the large. The time it takes depends on how well people navigate the map, Miron said, or whether they use a map at all.
Along the way, there are numbered checkpoints where participants can stop and punch a card they carry with them. The checkpoints also have maze maps at each one. There are six checkpoints in each half of the maze.
Once they have completed the maze, maze-goers can take part in free activities that are a part of the Shafer Corn Maze. There are farm animals including baby goats, pigs, a calf and turkeys for the kids to pet and learn about, a hay bale maze for the youngest maze-goers to tackle and a rope maze, which Miron was adding last weekend.
The rope maze has a “Survivor” feel to it, as participants connect their carabiner to a colored rope and then try to navigate over and under other ropes to get to the end of theirs.
The Shafer Corn Maze is open Wednesday through Friday, 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is also open extended hours on Labor Day and fall teacher workshop days (Oct. 19-20).
As dusk comes earlier and earlier, participants can enjoy the added challenge of navigating the mazes in the dark, but are encouraged to bring their own flashlights. Each checkpoint has a small light to help participants see the maps and to punch their cards.
The final day of the maze will be Halloween, Oct. 31, when it runs from 4 to 8 p.m. While the maze won’t be a “haunted” one this year, the Mirons encourage visitors to dress up and receive a treat bag for visiting that day. They hope to add a few scares and surprises to next year’s Halloween maze.
Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for kids.
Teresa Rongitsch said this is the first year they have added a corn maze at their farm in rural Lindstrom.
“I’ve wanted to do it for quite a while,” she said. The Rongitsch family has been selling pumpkins at the family farm for nearly 30 years. They also offer free pumpkins and farm tours to all Chisago Lakes School District kindergartners each fall, an annual tradition the teachers and students highly anticipate.
With three sons in the military, and Rongitsch’s brother in active duty oversees, the Rongitsch family decided to kick off the opening of its corn maze with something special.
On Sunday, Oct. 1, the farm is inviting families of active duty service men and women to come for a free day at the maze. Rongitsch said deciding to have an event for military families “got the ball rolling” to plan the corn maze this year.
The maze will be designed as two pumpkins sitting side-by-side. Rongitsch said the original design will have to be modified slightly because the dry weather left two areas of the cornfield too low. Otherwise, the eight-foot tall corn will more than suffice to create a very challenging, fun maze, she said.
Rongitsch assumes the 3.5-acre maze will take at least an hour to navigate. “It will take some time to get through,” she said.
The Rongitsch corn maze is located about 4.5 miles south of Lindstrom off of Olinda Trl. (CR 25). Take the road to Panola Dr. (CR 86) and take a left. You will see the farm immediately on the right.
The maze is open every day from 10 a.m. to dusk. They also offer moonlight madness maze excursions by reservation only. Participants can call for the Saturday-only evening experience and bring their flashlights for the added nighttime challenge.
And when the kindergartners come out to the farm to choose their free pumpkin and join the Rongitsch’s on a long nature walk, Rongitsch hopes they can also find the time to go through the maze.
Admission at the Tom’s Pumpkin Farm corn maze is $5 for ages 12 and up, $3 for ages 5 to 11 and free for ages 4 and under. For more information, go to the web site: www.tomspumpkinfarm.com.