Northwood residents start carefully-carved corn maze

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

Some Northwood, Iowa, residents have come up with a truly corny idea to promote their state and salute the agricultural industry.

The North Star of Iowa Corn Maze and Secret Garden opened Friday, just off Highway 65 north of Northwood. It’s a 12-acre maze cut out of a field of corn. The outline of the maze is a young boy holding onto a show steer with one hand and a purple ribbon with his other hand, and the words &uot;Grand Champion 2002&uot; bannered above.

According to Bryn Pangburn, who is producing the maze along with her husband Donnie, the idea came from a &uot;CBS Sunday Morning&uot; program about farmers who were finding alternative forms of income.

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Pangburn actually attended a seminar on corn mazes in Madison, Wis., in February, and the couple decided in March to have one this year. The seminar leader, Andrea Hughes, actually designed the Pangburns’ maze.

The maze was designed on a grid. After the cornfield was planted, it was divided into 15-foot squares. Family members then removed corn plants as needed within those squares to follow the grid.

&uot;Some people use tillers to do their mazes, but we did it by hand,&uot; Pangburn said. &uot;It was very labor-intensive.&uot;

The maze is designed to be played as a game.

It will feature a series of Iowa- and corn-related trivia questions to assist the public through the maze. There will also be staff and maps positioned throughout the maze for additional assistance, and the Maze Master, perched in a tower high above the maze, will lead lost participants in the right direction.

People can also enjoy a day on the farm, hunt for the hidden pumpkin patch, and tour an authentic log home. There will also be a concession tent for relaxing and nightly campfires.

The maze is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 23 to Nov. 3, and weekdays by appointment. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m., but some special events last until midnight. Admission is $5, with children 5 and under admitted free. Pangburn advises people to bring mosquito repellent, as well as flashlights if they come in the evening. She said it takes about an hour to get through the maze.

People can also plan group events there. Groups of 20 or more can have dinners as simple as hamburgers or as elaborate as steaks served in the VIP tent. Call (641) 324-1435 for more information.

To get to the maze from Albert Lea, go south on Highway 65. Just north of Northwood, turn west on 490th Street, then go west on the blacktop for a sixteenth of a mile.

Upcoming events include: Grand opening Aug. 30 and 31 and Sept. 1 and 2; Kids’ Day Sept. 7, Grandparents’ Day Sept. 8; Ag Day Sept. 14; Seniors’ Day Sept. 28; Singles’ Night Sept. 21; Octoberfest Oct. 4-6 and 11-13; Moonlight Maze Weekends are Aug. 23-25, Sept. 20-22 and Oct. 18-20; Haunted Halloween Maze Oct. 25-27, 31 and Nov. 1 and 2. Team paint-ball challenge weekends will be announced.

The maze is sponsored by Monsanto, DeKalb Seed, Harness Herbicide, North Woods Cabinetry and Northwood Short Stop.