Scrolling Headlines:

Pat Kelsey informs UMass AD Ryan Bamford of change of heart just 35 minutes before scheduled press conference -

March 23, 2017

Past and present UMass football players participate in 2017 Pro Day Thursday -

March 23, 2017

Pat Kelsey reportedly backs down from UMass men’s basketball coaching position -

March 23, 2017

Students react to new fence around Townehouses -

March 23, 2017

‘Do You Have The Right To Do Drugs?’ debate held in Bowker Auditorium -

March 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to build on three-game winning streak against Brown -

March 23, 2017

UMass softball riding five-game win streak into first Atlantic 10 showdown -

March 23, 2017

Sanzo: Inability to win close games has hurt UMass baseball -

March 23, 2017

Hannah Murphy scores 100th career goal in UMass women’s lacrosse 16-9 win over Harvard -

March 23, 2017

Old age does no harm to indie rock legends The Feelies -

March 23, 2017

A track-by-track breakdown of Drake’s new project -

March 23, 2017

When a president lies -

March 23, 2017

Let them eat steak, and other gender norms I hate -

March 23, 2017

Dissecting Science: Episode Two -

March 22, 2017

Holy Cross 10-run eighth inning sinks UMass baseball -

March 22, 2017

UMass students react to Spring Concert lineup -

March 22, 2017

Letter: Vote yes for Amherst -

March 22, 2017

You don’t have to walk alone -

March 22, 2017

Tyler Bogart and D.J. Smith lead UMass men’s lacrosse during three game win streak -

March 22, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse emphasizes defense in approaching games as its key to gaining momentum for conference play -

March 22, 2017

‘So you think you Noah your English?’ asks Mike’s Maze

Western Mass. is gorgeous in the fall. The environment is saturated with the reds, oranges and golds of the leaves that crunch underfoot. Endless expanses of fields stretch out in all directions, ripe with fruits and vegetables ready for harvesting. But on Main Street in Sunderland, more than just crop-raising happens in these fields. Every year, farmer Mike Wissemann and his friend, artist Will Sillin, transform the cornfields at Warner Farm into an extensive and intricate corn maze.

The pair have been an artistic team since 2000, when they debuted with their own rendering of the Minuteman found on a Massachusetts collectible quarter. Every maze since created has pushed their talents further. In the past, they’ve recreated everything from the Mona Lisa to a Campbell’s soup can. This year’s maze is equally as mind-boggling: it depicts Noah Webster, writer of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, with giant letters carved out all around him.

As Wissemann and Sillin’s creative energy has increased, they’ve developed precise maze-creating techniques to match their larger-than-life ideas. They use a grid system to plan out their design, taking away the stalks of corn one at a time to make sure their finished product looks perfect and photo-worthy. By the time the end of October rolls around, the maze has swapped its pristine green rows for well-worn trails and bending, yellowed stalks, but this is to be expected considering the 10,000 annual customers. The majority of them come on the two long weekends for which the maze remains open: Labor Day and Columbus Day.

Part of Sillin’s yearly contribution also includes creating a game for visitors to play as they navigate the maze. Fittingly, this year’s is word themed and does a great job of integrating all age levels. Younger maze-goers can play a word matching game contained within Webster’s portrait. Children just learning the alphabet can stay in the northern area of the maze and keep track of which letters they find there. More advanced players can roam the entire maze to solve the clues given within each corn letter, then find the corresponding answer in a word search. The more words and letters found, the more points — and points earn the coveted prize of a pumpkin or gourd right from the farm.

While the maze is the main attraction, there are also lots of farm animals sure to delight all ages. The tickle of a baby goat nibbling a cone full of feed right out of your hand proves oddly satisfying. There’s even a horse-drawn wagon for a truly unique view of the surrounding area. And as always, the farm sells the fresh, high-quality produce that’s come to characterize the Pioneer Valley. It’s much too easy to spend an entire afternoon here, basking in the warm shadow of Mount Sugarloaf and enjoying the crisp fall air with friends and family.

This year, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the maze may have something extra special in store for Halloween weekend. Conscious of their sizeable college student demographic, the management has proposed special night hours during which visitors would traverse the maze with flashlights. It’s not definite yet, but they’ll be keeping prospective attendees posted via their website, mikesmaze.com.

Mike’s Maze is the very essence of a perfect fall day in New England. It’s just $8 to visit with a student ID. Adults pay $9 and children from 4-to-12 are $7, while those younger than 4 are free. The maze runs on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — but only until the end of October.

Lindsey Tulloch can be reached at ltulloch@student.umass.edu.

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