SURREY — When operators of the Bose Corn Maze open their gates to the public this weekend, they’re hoping for at least two things.
One, they’d love for Mother Nature to smile upon the 25-acre plantation.
Two, they really urge the yahoos to stay at home.
Both have caused headaches for Mike and Novy Bose over the past 17 years, since they began growing rows of corn in the shape of a large logo of some kind. The Whitecaps, a couple of Grey Cup logos, the Canucks, Cloverdale Rodeo, the John Deere brand, the old Air Canada Championship golf tourney logo – all have been shaped into a maze on the farmland located at the corner of 64th Avenue and 156th Street in Surrey.
This year, the vegetable-based labyrinth is created in the shape of the Rugby Canada logo, thanks to a family passion for the game.
“We saw the logo so much during the Rugby Sevens tournament held in Vancouver last spring,” Mike explained. “I’m a former (rugby) player and our son still plays, (and) we wanted to commemorate that tournament, which was a great experience. It happened way back in March, but our women won bronze in Rio during the Olympics, so they deserve some love, too. We also got the Surrey Beavers logo in there.”
PICTURED: Novy and Mike Bose pose for a photo in a corn-y cutout. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Some people wonder why sports logos usually form the maze each year.
“It’s because those are usually the only ones that have picture logos these days, and everyone else does words (as a logo),” Mike explained. “Words are boring. It doesn’t make a picture.”
In 1999, the Bose family first created a corn maze with the help of a renowned Utah-based maze designer named Brett Herbst, who still works with them. Each spring, a logo is sent to Herbst, who sends back a computer-generated grid with connected paths and some corn-planting instructions.
Somehow, somewhat mysteriously, the maze materializes in the field by mid-summer, with the help of the couple’s sons, Kevin and Matthew, along with friends and neighbours.
“You count out 20 rows, put a flag down, count another 20 rows, put another flag down, and so on,” Novy related.
“It’s done freehand by counting rows of corn,” Mike added.
The first year of their maze, the farmers weren’t exactly sure what they were getting into. Once planted with “feed” corn, as it always is, the field was soon flooded by heavy rains, and a replanting effort meant shrinking the maze by almost half.
“It was scary that first year,” Mike recalled. “Nobody in the family wanted to join in with us, so we sank every penny we had into it. It’s thousands of dollars to do this.… One of those bridges out there, it’s a few thousand dollars to build.”
For the first seven years of operation, the maze was created on Bose-owned land to the east, near the hill on 64th Avenue.
Three years ago, in 2013, a fierce September storm forced the maze to close two weeks early. A storm-caused closing date was significantly earlier two years ago, Mike said. And last year, the wicked winds of late August proved nearly disastrous.
“We physically picked up the fallen corn,” he recalled. “It was mostly just one area of the maze that took all the damage, and we used 100 feet of fencing to keep people out of there. We actually had people back in that Sunday afternoon, which was amazing. It worked out last year.”
Sometimes, storms don’t pose the biggest problems for the maze operators.
“We play a cat-and-mouse game with idiots who try stuff every so often,” Mike said. “One time, these guys went in there with fireworks, which isn’t good because it’d take only a few minutes and the whole thing would be gone in a fire.”
Novy nodded in agreement.
“Some people come here just to knock down the corn and throw it at each other,” she said. “But as much hard work as it is, and you get the occasional dimwit, it’s pretty good every year, lots of fun. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it, right? We get lots of good people here, too.”
• The Bose Corn Maze opens this Saturday (Aug. 27) and closes on Oct. 16. For more details about the attraction, including admission rates, hours of operation and some history about the farm, visit Bosecornmaze.com or call 778-578-5450.