Gill’s Pier Corn Maze Opens In Leelanau Peninsula
On September 1st, Gill’s Pier Vineyard & Winery opened the only corn maze on the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan. Recently, Midwest Wine Press spoke with Gill’s Pier co-owner Kris Sterkenburg about how and why the corn maze was created.
How did you cut the Gill’s Pier logo in the corn? Was someone in a hot air balloon supervising?
The corn maze was designed by Corn Mazes America. After they design it, you can decide whether or not you would like them to do the initial cutting of the maze. Or you can attempt to cut the design yourself. Since this was new to us and we keep very busy with the winery, we decided to have them cut it. Corn Maze America came to our site from Wisconsin with a zero-turn GPS guided lawn mower. They cut the design when the corn was about 10 -12 inches high which was on the 4th of July this year!
After they cut the corn the first time, my husband and I cut it again about four times more with a push mower. The maze has over two miles of paths so that’s a lot of mowing! What we didn’t realize is that corn is very resilient and keeps growing back until about the third cutting.
How long did it take to create the maze?
Once we decided that we wanted our logo design for this year (a custom job) – we were able to get the design from Corn Mazes America in about a week. They also have stock designs for a little less money. We planted the corn in double planted rows both north/south and east/west to make it nice and full. We planted the second week of June and prayed for rain; then the cutting began.
How much did the maze cost?
It’s cost well under $10,000 to establish. The cost varies depending on how big your field is, who you can get to help you and how much you do yourself. And, of course, it helps if you own the land, which we do!
Will this be an annual attraction?
We would like it to be an annual attraction, but since this is the first year, we need to see how the public responds. So far the response has been good. We’re hoping for more and more people as the colors turn.
What does the corn maze add to the winery experience?
Well, it adds a “family” component that we previously have never had. And actually, as I understand, many adults are very excited about corn mazes and travel around to visit them. So with autumn being our busiest season anyway, it seemed like a natural thing to do.
Do you have any suggestions for someone considering a corn maze?
The only other real component-especially this year- is Mother Nature. Our maze only got about four days of rain the whole summer. The corn did reasonably well, but there are some spotty low areas in the maze. There are also some 10 feet tall areas as well, so it balances out. Unfortunately, the corn will dry out sooner than we hoped.
The only other thing about the maze, which seems obvious now, is that you really can get lost! I have walked the maze at least 7-8 times and I still need a map! We are looking forward to adding some night-time hours in October to make the “flashlight” maze especially challenging!
Publisher’s note: The Gill’s Pier maze contains approximately two miles of paths. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the maze as it can take up to 90 minutes to navigate while sober. The cost is $6 with free admission for children under three.
For more information, please see the Gill’s Pier website at: http://www.gillspier.com/