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Friday, 27 October 2017 04:59

Nothing corny about Brooks maze at Halloween

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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Tumbleweed Theatre took part in 2016. Tumbleweed Theatre took part in 2016.

When the Ron and Michelle Gietz family moved to a farm just on the outskirts of the City of Brooks about seven to eight years ago, it soon became apparent they were going to have to find a way for those 92 acres to make money other than with the 64 ewes and 25 head of cattle.


The idea of creating a U-pick berry farm and corn maze was tossed around and became a reality five years ago.
“We decided to grow corn because we decided to do a corn maze,” says Michelle Gietz about the family business which draws anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 people per season.
The corn maze is open from mid August to end of October, depending on the weather. Prior to its opening through July, people can pick their own raspberries.
Every year the family tries to think of a theme for the maze. This year, knowing Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation was going to be a big deal, the maze is in the shape of a ship with a theme of immigration. Those who dare to find their way through its twists and turns, will need to find and answer 10 questions about Canadian immigration in order to be entered into a draw for prizes to be handed out at the end of the season.
“It takes some longer than others,” explains Gietz about the maze which usually takes up about six to seven acres of land. “It takes about an hour. Some people have all 10, some are in there for two hours looking for the last one.”
Being close to Brooks has meant a nice draw of people from that area every year to check out the corn maze and other activities, but now about 50 per cent of those who take it in are from Medicine Hat and Cypress County.
The cost for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is $10 for adults and $6 for children ages five to 12. Those who are ages four and younger can enter for free. A family pass is also available for two adults and up to three children between the ages of five to 12 for $30.
Earlier in the season, the maze is open on Friday evenings when there is still light, but into September and October, it is only open Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
A special night takes place in September where people can attempt the maze in the dark using flashlights. The annual Zombie Fright Night has also proved popular in October, with it selling out with just over 300 people taking part. Members of the Tumbleweed Theatre dress up for the roles of the zombies and spend a few hours scaring patrons in the maze, jumping out at them and chasing them through the dark pathways.
Thanks to their help, the theatre benefits by earning a portion of the proceeds to be used for their own events.
Since everyone will finish the maze in different times, the Gietzs knew they needed other activities to offer. They have slowly increased the number of activities and now people can also fish in the magnetic fish pond, go for a walk in the human hamster wheel or hone their putting skills with the Pasture Putt Golf. There is also a Corny Sandbox, as well as a small train people can ride that will take them around to see some of the animals on the property.
New this year was Pumpkin Tic Tac Toe and upgrades were made to the putting holes.
All of the activities are included in the admission prices.
The pumpkin patch is open every weekend in the fall so people can purchase their pumpkins for carving and/or eating. During the summer months, there is fresh produce grown on the farm for sale including peas, beans, rhubarb, sweet corn, onions, potatoes and carrots. People can also pick their own raspberries and apples when in season.
The business has not only been a productive one for the Gietz family, but also a fun one. They try to add new activities each year to grow and expand, but Michelle admits it has become more busy as their children have grown up and left the farm for elsewhere. Only one child remains at home to help. She and Ron are also employed full-time off the farm, since the business is just a seasonal one for a few months each year.
Fun and affordable is one of the biggest reasons why they try to keep admission low, especially by offering a family rate.
“We have five kids and when they were small we found it was hard to do things with everybody because it was so expensive,” adds Gietz.
More information about the Brooks Corn Maze, which closes after the last weekend of October for the season, is online at: www.brookscornmaze.com/ or on Facebook under Brooks Corn Maze.

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