By Meagan Stilp
BARAGA - When Joe Des Rochers cut his first corn maze, he wasn't planning on making it a public event, but for the second year in a row Des Rochers is opening his haunted corn maze for Halloween enthusiasts.
"I had a patch of corn planted last year and I just cut a path through it for the kids," Des Rochers said. "They enjoyed it so we decided to open it to the public."
Des Rochers and a group of volunteers began sketching out this year's maze in July.
"This year there was a little more planning," he said.
In order to ensure the maze path was clear, Des Rocher cut the corn down when it was about a foot and a half high on July 18. In the following months, the corn surrounding the path grew taller and the maze was formed. Although the cool summer weather caused some concern about whether the corn would grow high enough to reach above people's heads, warm weather and rain in August helped the plants shoot up.
Maze attendees can expect a good scare as small groups wander through the maze in the dark with only LED flashlights as their guides.
"It's pretty spooky - you're walking through a maze in the dark, with corn over your head, with just an LED flashlight and people are popping out at you," Des Rochers said.
There is no guide but Des Rochers said there is no concern about getting lost in the corn as long as guests stay on the path.
"It's not maze in the traditional sense where you choose a path," he said. "There's just one path and there's enough guys in there if something happend we could help or point you in the right direction but we do try to stay in character."
At the beginning of the corn maze there is a gate to help stagger groups as they go through and to ensure that not too many people are in one group.
"We try to keep groups to no more than ten per group so they get maximum experience out of it," Des Rochers said. "Then we open the gate up and they're gone."
Within the maze there are several spooky characters and props meant to scare people. Although there is no minimum age requirement for entering the maze, Des Rochers suggests not brining very young children.
"We really don't recommend bringing really small kids, but it seems seven and up is alright depending on the kid - some kids just get scared more easily," he said.
Admission to the maze is $5, which includes an LED flashlight that attendees can take home with them after using it to get through the maze. The maze is located two miles west of the Highway 41 and M-38 junction in Baraga, one mile past the casino. The maze opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. and will be open the weekends of Oct. 18 and 19 and Oct. 25 and 26. For more information, visit the facebook page at www.facebook.com/DesRochersCornMaze.
"It's a really great time and something the whole family can do together," Des Rochers said. "Sometimes that's not easy to do and that's our whole aim - to have an event to take the whole family to and have something to talk about that night and hopefully get a little bit scared."