Candy Wasson remembers the impressed visitors to her dairy farm.
Going through the Ferguson Township farm’s haunted corn maze, they found one detail particularly authentic.
“We had people complimenting us on our coyote calls,” Wasson said. “We didn’t tell them they were real.”
The Wasson family can’t guarantee howls and yips coming from the wooded ridge on their property, but the haunted maze at the corner of Branch Road and state Route 45 is back for flashlight thrills Oct. 19-20. After offering it twice before, the Wassons took a break from making all the turns needed for a 7-acre maze.
“It’s a lot of work,” Candy Wasson said.
This year it returns as a fundraiser. Each $5 ticket will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger, a senior project for Halee Wasson, one of six Wasson daughters.
Open dusk to 10 p.m., the special attraction joins the farm’s popular 2-acre corn maze, now in its 12th year. Candy Wasson said the annual maze started after her children saw a corn maze at the Ag Progress Days festival held in the township.
“They just loved it,” she said. “We were looking for something to add to our farm market.”
The maze fit in with the family’s love of children and interest in agritourism, and so it stayed. About 2,000 students on field trips and other young visitors explore it every year. Purchases at the nearby seasonal market earn entry to the corridors between 10-foot stalks.
Each year the family plants the corn later than normal so that it stays green into October. The walls come from planting rows in different directions, rather than one as they would be for crops, before corridors are cut when the corn is knee-high.
“We checkerboard it to make it thicker,” Wasson said.
Families can try the maze during the farm’s fall festival Oct. 13-14. Other attractions will include hay rides, a steam engine making apple butter and soups, a livestock petting zoo, an oxen team and a pumpkin patch.
The haunted house maze may have mild frights — spooky scenes rather than heart-stopping surprises — but at worst, the smaller maze only disorients some, usually adults. Children, said Candy Wasson, typically scurry through the maze fearlessly like laboratory mice.
“They run right in,” she said. “They just love it. It’s almost like: Who can get out first?”
Often, Wasson said, children have to run back in to fetch their confused parents. Her advice for the maze-dazed?
“Just let your kids lead you. They’ll find your way out.”
— By Chris Rosenblum