By Theodora Macleod
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Every year, Theo Slingerland designs an intricate maze full of twists, turns, and dead ends. From above it’s a detailed image made of lines and curves, each year with a different theme.
In 2011, he made a compass, 2013 was an ode to the 100th anniversary of 4-H Canada, 2018 a beehive complete with the words “Bee Amazed” and “Bzzz.” They’re a labour of love and open to guests of all ages. And they’re completely made of corn.
The official history of the corn maze only dates back 30 years. The first maze of maize is said to have been in Pennsylvania in 1993 – though some records suggest it may date back to 1982. Slingerland and his family, however, have been welcoming visitors to get lost on their farm for the last 24 years.
The process begins before May when Slingerland starts drawing out his idea. He plots an entrance, exit, loops, and trails that lead nowhere.
In May the work begins – acres of corn are planted with the promise that at the end of June the field will be ready for the team to cut out Slingerland’s design. A month later they are ready for visitors, the corn having grown tall enough to keep people searching for anywhere between 20 minutes and two hours.
“The two hours is at night most likely,” Slingerland says, adding that for those who get really lost, “we eventually find them.”
There’s more than one maze at Lethbridge Corn Maze; a kid’s maze, trivia maze, hedge maze, and pallet maze, there’s somewhere for everyone to get lost in.
Like all the best farm experiences, guests can also visit the petting zoo, but if that’s not enough there’s also tractor rides, a giant slide, zip lines, a new jumping pillow, and seasonal features like goat cuddling in the spring, sunflowers at the end of the summer, and pumpkins in autumn.
Since the opening of the corn maze, Slingerland and his team have committed to doing a Thanksgiving fundraiser where they alternate between supporting local and international charities. They’ve yet to decide on this year’s charity, but Slingerland says it will be local. In addition to the fundraiser, they also sponsor four children through World Vision.
The Lethbridge Corn Maze is open until the last weekend in October and is located north Park Lake Provincial Park. For more information including directions, visit http://www.lethbridgecornmaze.com