Getting an “A” in a graduate course at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is easy compared to trying to pass the challenge of the Corn Maze at Trzebiatowski Farms at 7580 County Road BB near Bancroft.
My wife, Jenny, and I took our two sons – 7-year-old Braden and 3-month-old Declan – to the Corn Maze Saturday, Sept. 29, as an opportunity to take advantage of a beautiful fall day. Although I had never been to the maze itself, I was familiar with it through my work at The Gazette, having written articles in previous years about it.
I knew members of the Trzebiatowski and Hintz families have been holding it for the past five years as a fundraiser for the Stevens Point FFA Alumni, an organization that uses the funds to support FFA programs in local high schools. Concerned because of cutbacks in those programs, the FFA Alumni wanted to make sure schools continued to educate students about a career choice that employs thousands of people locally.
I also knew the corn maze was made on more than 100,000 square feet of a 306,000-square-foot cornfield. Conquering the maze would not be an easy challenge.
Years ago, during my Waushara County days, I accepted the challenge of a much smaller corn maze in Wild Rose, completing it within minutes. Reach a dead end, go back and take the other option. I expected more of the same with this maze, but shortly after we entered I realized we weren’t coming out any time soon.
We encountered our first fork in the maze within 100 feet. I think we had two choices to take, but I can’t recall because there were often three or four choices, and sometimes more, after that. Going back to retrace quickly became impossible.
My strategy at first was to take the paths closest to the outer edge of the corn maze, figuring those would most likely take us around the entire cornfield and to the maze’s exit. Such thinking seems logical, as any maze designer will want to make sure people cover a lot of ground. This strategy seemed to work initially, as we didn’t have to go back that often to retrace ground.
Halfway through our endeavor it appeared as though the strategy was working to perfection because we were on the back end of the maze, heading to the right side of the field where we wanted to be to work our way to the exit.
And then we reached a dead end. Before we reached it Jenny said she hoped we didn’t hit one because we’d be going back a long way. “No, this is the right way,” I reassured her. As usual, though, I was wrong.
At this point I started singing an original song I called “Children of the Corn,” based on the horror movie of the same name, one of which I have never actually seen. Since I assumed the movie features children terrorizing people who wander into their cornfield, I thought a spooky song was appropriate. I liked the song, Jenny didn’t like my vocal abilities, and to my surprise Braden told me to stop it. I expected him to start singing along with me. I’d like to think Declan, who was attached to his mother via one of those baby swaddlers, liked my performance.
While no children popped out from the maze to terrorize us, we did encounter a few other groups who seemed just as lost, including one with a woman who had so much hairspray in her hair it absorbed the beautiful fall smells of the cornfield. I never imagined being in a cornfield that smelled like a beauty parlor.
After half an hour of wandering around to my awesome vocal abilities and the smell of hairspray, arguing which ways we needed to go and avoiding possible murderous children, we found ourselves back at the start of the maze. “I want to be done,” said Braden. Me too, so we went out through the in gate as though we had just conquered the maze.
Far from it, but we had a great time failing the challenge.
We then enjoyed some sodas, pot belly pig mini-races and picking a pumpkin from a patch there, capping off a perfect afternoon.
Braden wants to go back at night for the Halloween maze. Maybe then we’ll see encounter the “Children of the Corn” I sang about.