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A-maze-ing fall fun: Annual corn maze at Chatfield Farms is a tradition for many

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By Deborah Swearingen

The leaves are turning, and the air is chilling. At Chatfield Farms, that means one thing — corn maze time.

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This year, the 7-acre maze, now in its 18th year at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ South Jeffco location, is an expression of gratitude to first responders. A fire truck, police car and ambulance are carved into the rows of corn, and scarecrows dressed as first responders are spread throughout the maze. Design planning begins the January prior to the corn maze opening. The corn is planted in May, and a design is cut in June. Each year, the design changes in an effort to provide a new theme and experience for those who return annually.

And many do. For lots of people, including the Gross family of Aurora, the corn maze is a tradition.

“We do it every year,” said Chad Gross prior to embarking on the journey through the rows of corn.

“We’ve done it in the heat, in the mud, in the snow,” Renée Gross added. “We skipped nap time to do this.”

Sandi Nypaver of Boulder made similar remarks.

“I try to go to at least one corn maze a year,” she said after completing the maze.

It took Nypaver and Sage Canaday more than an hour to finish the corn maze, but that was largely because they traversed the maze in an effort to find all of the first responder scarecrows.

Others visited the corn maze at Chatfield Farms for the first time this year. Although they went through the maze twice, last Friday was Shannon and Brandon Hays’ first visit to the corn maze at Chatfield Farms. Both agreed it was a blast, though Brandon, 7, probably had the most fun hiding from his mom in the tall stalks of corn.

“As a mom it kind of freaks you out,” Shannon said with a smile.

In addition to the traditional corn maze, Chatfield Farms offers a mini-maze for kids and an after-dark and haunted version. During the day, there are a number of other activities for visitors to try, including pony rides, hayrides and a number of food vendors, on top of all the typical Chatfield Farms attractions.

That is part of the draw of Chatfield’s corn maze, according to Michelle Wilcox, manager of public events at Chatfield Farms.

“Since the maze is part of Denver Botanic Gardens, you can also see the farm animals, beautiful gardens, historic buildings and fall harvest fields we have on our property. It is a very full and rich experience that provides much more entertainment and education opportunities than just the maze,” Wilcox said.

Visitors also can see pumpkins growing in the 10-acre pumpkin patch and can buy one to take home during this weekend’s Pumpkin Festival. This is particularly rare, she said.

“Pumpkins at many fall events are not grown on site,” Wilcox said.