IN THE NEWS

The News-Times: Local A-maiz-ing grace
A-maiz-ing grace
Corn-founding visitors part of fun for Brookfield business
By Heather Barr
THE NEWS-TIMES
2003-07-17

Rob Stiuffer of Precision Mazes uses a computer guide for navigation as he cuts through the Larson Farm cornfield to create a maze.
The News-Times/Carol Kaliff
Rob Stiuffer of Precision Mazes uses a computer guide for navigation as he cuts through the Larson Farm cornfield to create a maze.
Dean Schultz, grandson of Albert Larson, now owns Larson Farm.
The News-Times/Carol Kaliff
Dean Schultz, grandson of Albert Larson, now owns Larson Farm.
BROOKFIELD — Rose Willey is not a farm girl, but last year she celebrated her 10th birthday trying to get out of a cornfield.

Rose, her parents and about six of her friends shared a lot of laughs while going through Larson’s A-maiz-ing Maze — despite getting lost after about 45 minutes.

"It was pretty hard,” said Rose, of Brookfield. "We had to bail out after a while. We had fun. We found out we had to cross over two bridges. I want to go again this year.”

She’ll have to go to a different cornfield.

And walk a different route.

Dean Schultz, the maze’s owner, is taking his business south, from 1055 Federal Road to 401 Federal Road, into a 24-acre field across from the First Assembly of God Church.

Schultz, 38, of Southbury, said he moved because the owner of 1055 Federal Road is putting a commercial building on the property.

The theme of the maze will change, too. Last year’s maze was in the outline of a monkey. This year, the 5-foot-wide paths will be in the shape of a lobster.

Go ahead, laugh. But last year, Schultz had plenty of monkey business. In his first year of operation, he attracted 13,000 people. On Columbus Day alone, 1,200 people became children of the corn.

Some people took 45 minutes to complete the maze. Others bumbled about for 4 hours. (Visitors get 9-foot-tall flags to wave above the corn stalks if they need to be rescued.)

"I like to see the look on their faces when they come out after being stuck,” said Schultz. "I have heard people in there laughing and they are so lost they don’t know where they are.”

This year’s goal is 20,000 people. Schultz hopes to attract more school field trips as well. He has created an educational packet for teachers that includes lessons about corn and mazes.

Emily Sands, 11, who went through the maze twice last year, once on a class trip, said the experience was educational. "We were learning cooperation and learning to work with others,” she said.

It was also fun. "During the middle of the maze, we tried to follow everyone else who thought they knew where to go,” said Emily, of Brookfield. "We made a wrong turn and we ended up getting stuck in the nose of the monkey.”

This year, there will be no noses. Instead, visitors will encounter a sea monster adventure. They will be told they are deep sea divers who must find out what is destroying the coral reefs. By using clues they find along the maze’s path — which will be decorated with fish nets and the like — they can try to solve the mystery.

"We want them to feel like they are on an ocean bottom and the corn is the seaweed,” said Schultz. "It is all up to your own imagination.”

The maze is set to open Aug. 2.

On Tuesday, Schultz was already sweating the details. Though his primary career is remodeling kitchens, at around 3 p.m. he looked like a hard-core farmer — deeply tanned and wearing jeans, a T-shirt and baseball cap — as he watched his crop of knee-high corn get a trim.

"I am feeling overly anxious,” said Schultz, as he watched Rob Stouffer of Precision Mazes cut paths. The mower was hooked up to a global positioning system to guide Stouffer as he made the lobster pattern.

Stouffer’s Missouri-based company cuts more than 20 mazes a year all over the United States. But he said Adrian Fisher, who designed Schultz’s maze this year and last year, is "the Picasso of maze design.”

Fisher’s mazes are found all over the country and the world, including the United Kingdom and Israel. Schultz has a five year contract with Fisher, which means no one else can use a Fisher pattern within a three-hour drive of Brookfield.

But there are loads of other designers. And dozens of mazes in New York and New England and hundreds across the country.

Schultz estimates it costs about $50,000 to get his business going. That includes planting corn, getting the cornfield cut and making a courtyard where tickets, snacks and souvenirs are sold.

He can lose a bundle if the weather is bad, the corn doesn’t grow tall and the adventurous customers don’t show up. "I am praying for good weather,” Schultz said. "I have been eating, sleeping and breathing this maze.”

Schultz’s corny interest started as a boy, when he helped his grandfather on the family farm in New Milford. After his grandfather died in 1997, the farm was sold. As a sentimental gesture, Schultz used a machete to carve out "Good Bye” in a cornfield.

Farming and corn continues to be a family affair. The maze is named after Schultz’s late uncle, Pete Larson, who once ran a farmer’s market. Schultz’s wife, Christie, his father- and mother-in-law, Chuck and Ann Carpentieri, and sisters-in-law Michele Carpentieri and Teri Damo help out with the business.

Schultz has a daughter, Nicole, 8, and a niece, Tricia, 9. Nicole helped to lead people through the maze last year and also had her birthday party at the maze. "She loves it,” said Schultz. "She can’t wait ’til it opens.”

For more information on the Larson’s A-maiz-ing Maze, call Larson’s Farmer’s Market at (203)-740-2790 or go to the Web site at www.larsonsfarmmarket.com






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The text of the article reads:

Larson's A-maiz-ing Maize Maze, 401 federal Road, Brookfield, is open to the public Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of October. Moonlight mazes will run Oct. 18, 19,25 and 26 from 3 to 10 p.m. Special mazes for children, hayrides, a souvenir shop, refreshments and a vegeetables and fruit marke will also highlight the event. Admission is $9.50, $7.50 for children under 13 and seniors 60 and older, and free for children under 3. From left are Susan Granger,; Actress Jane Powell and husband Richard Moore, who was among the characters in "The Little Rascals" series and reportedly gave Shirley Temple her first on-scren kiss many years ago; and Jim Mapes. For more information, call 740-2790 or visit www.larsonsfarmmarket.com on the internet.

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