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Local couple offers up a fun walk through the corn

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As the Dauphin area often enjoys a sunny warm fall, it makes sense to have a corn maze for the community to enjoy.
Shelley and Allen Secord had three acres of land between a barn, trees and willows, where they could not get large equipment to and thought the site was right for a maze.
“I’ve had the market garden here for three years or so. And that takes up about an acre,” Shelley explained.
“And so we decided we were going to try a corn maze. We’ve never done it before.”
The couple had not grown corn for landscaping before either, she said, noting they had just grown sweet corn in the garden.
The corn used for the maze is feed or silage corn, Shelley said, which Allen triple seeded, to ensure a thick growth.
“Usually corn planters, they plant it in 30-inch rows,” she said, explaining Allen went in different directions with the seeder for maximum thickness.
To design the maze, the Secords did some research and found a few books on designing corn mazes.
It was a hands-on project, with Shelley using graph paper to figure out a path.
When they realized the original maze was not large enough, they flipped it to double the size.
“And so on August long weekend, Allen and I cut this out, but we’ve never done it before and we didn’t know how much room it would take or how good the corn was,” Shelley said, noting after the original design they realized they still had lots of room and there were not enough pathways.
They did not use a GPS, as Shelley would shout out directions and Allen would whip it down with a brush cutter that looks like a saw blade on the end of a whipper snipper.
“And of course, we did it when it was 35 degrees. You don’t want to do that kind of thing with your husband when it’s a pleasant day, you’ve got to wait for the bugs and the heat,” she laughed.
They even managed to cut a B-shaped path, in honour of the Boles family, which is Allen’s great-grandparents.
The corn was only about a foot shorter than it is now, when they cut the maze, making it difficult to get their bearings.
“And so we’ll do it differently another year,” Shelley said, adding they have learned a few things with their first attempt.
The Secords hope to go to the end of October depending on the weather, as the response from visitors has been good.
The site is set up with a table and some chairs near the entrance, plus a porta-potty and parking.
Visitors must sign a waiver and pay a $5 fee for anyone over three years old.
Shelley explains how visitors can find their way around the maze and about the eight hidden signs her husband created with barn board and branding irons, plus three photo opportunities.
She estimated it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete it by finding all the signs and photo opportunities, but it can take just 15 minutes to walk through without stopping.
Shelley cautioned visitors the pathways are rough, as they are walking in a field with some stubble, rocks and uneven ground.
And the pathways are not as wide as bigger corn mazes, she said, so taking a stroller or wagon can be tricky.
There is no smoking and the Secords do not allow food or drink other than water into the maze, to discourage attracting pests, such as wasps or racoons.
The first day for the maze was Aug. 26, Shelley said, and they took some time to figure out how to process people.
“It’s just Allen and I, so we do it by appointment only, because we couldn’t manage if 50 people showed up at once, “ she said, adding in the short time it has been open, over 200 people have gone through their corn maze.
“It’s been very fun meeting all these families and people coming out.”
The couple do not advertise where the maze is and Shelley understands that can be frustrating to some people.
It is only advertised on Facebook, she said, so when an appointment is made, Secord will text or email the directions.
“I couldn’t take a big surge of people and have them have the same experience that I want them to have, if there is a ton of people here,” Shelley said.
The couple are already talking about next year and have some new ideas for seasonal activities, but it all depends on the corn.
Once they are done with the maze this year, she said, a neighbor plans to cut and bale some of it, once it dries, to feed it to his cattle.
Shelley anticipates the corn will stay up for the winter and if it remains upright, they may use the maze for a snowshoe trail.
“There’s also been talk about maybe putting some electric fence around it and just grazing cattle in there over the winter,” she added.
For more information, look for the Secord Corn Maze on Facebook. You may leave a message, plus text or call them at 204-647-2656.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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