By Haiyu Zheng -Contributing Writer


   When the view of ten acres of cornfield finally came into sight as we drove, my friends and I started feeling thrilled about heading out to the field with excitement and an adrenaline rush.

   I was a little bit overwhelmed when standing in front of the massive landscape with piles of brown plants filled with ripening ears of corn. Looking up at these huge rippling stalks, I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, they are wicked tall.” This was my first experience of seeing a corn maze in person. It reminded me of the crop circle that I saw in a documentary when I was in China, before I came to UMF.

   That Sunday afternoon, instead of dying while doing my homework, I decided to have an adventure at the corn maze at the Sandy River Farm on Farmington Falls Road with UMF senior Elina Shapiro, and Chinese instructor Hui Shao.

From L to R: Haiyu Zheng, Elina E. Shapiro, and Hui Shao at the Sandy River Corn Maze.
(Photo by Hui Shao)

   Sandy River Farm is a vast fascinating landscape that consists of 600 acres of land in pastures, hayland, and rows of crops as well as approximately 1000 acres of forest land. The corn maze named “Amazing Maize” is held on the field south of the farm. In addition to the maze, the farm also offers a pumpkin patch and a “Cow Train” ride for kids.

   The first thing we noticed was the tower near the entrance of the maze. Visitors could go upstairs on a staircase ascending to the top of a tower to perceive the entire farm.

   Shapiro commented that “the view was as far as you could see and pretty much any direction you looked there was corn.” Surprised, she raised her voice and said, “even behind me I saw corn.”

   After that, we finally started our journey.

   I honestly didn’t know what I expected in the beginning, so I think I made a lot of stupid suggestions.

  “I’ve heard a theory that you can go out very quickly if you chose the same direction every time you have to make a choice,” I said. “Like you just stay to the right side.” I was as confident as a professional.

   After the first few minutes, we found that we were back to the same spot we started from, which meant we didn’t go anywhere.

   This time I changed the strategy. I picked some corn up off the ground and made signs with them. I thought I was pretty smart.

  A few minutes later, I heard Shao’s voice. “Oh, no! I think we’ve been here before!” Yes, we got lost in the circular trails created by these tall plants.

   “What if we cannot find the way out?” Shao asked. Well, this was a good question.

   One of the things that I was hyper-aware of was how confusing it was. After failing so many times, I realized that I was probably not a “puzzle” person so I totally gave up and let my friends lead me to whichever direction they thought fit.  

   We came across several families with distinctive, interesting approaches. Many families enjoyed getting lost in the maze. One family said  quite casually, “we were just wandering.” Another used their Google map to direct their way, and one just enjoyed playing with their kids while they were walking.

   Shapiro suggested taking on the philosophy of wandering instead of being nervous about figuring out which way to go. We all thought that was a good idea, so we ended up following the family using the Google map. (Technology is good.)

   I remember how excited we were when making a significant breakthrough of going through the intermediate part of the maze. As the maze went on, we passed through the paths more easily when we found that there were signs of numbers placing strategically throughout the maze. In another twenty minutes, we found the exit!

   I couldn’t believe we made it! We celebrated our victory by taking a lot of selfies with a werewolf statue at the exit, which was also near the entrance.  

   Before leaving, we had a short tour exploring the other parts of the farm. Walking through a sea of pumpkins of all kinds of shapes, we got on a truck that took us to a place with some animals. I approached a goat and pet his fuzzy head. Embraced by the unexpected natural grace, I forgot all the clutter and clatter of life in this bright, breezy Sunday afternoon. It was an awesome trip.

   There will be a haunted maze going at the end of October. It freaks me out when thinking about encountering creepy clowns or vampires who suddenly pop out of a corner. But for students who have a resilient heart, more information can be found on the Sandy River Farm’s Facebook page.