For the first time in 22 years, the Bose Corn Maze won’t open this summer.
Operators of the Cloverdale-area attraction say they’re taking a year off due to COVID-related uncertainties.
Farmer Mike Bose said the family had to make a decision in late April about whether to create a maze in the cornfield at the corner of 64th Avenue and 156th Street. Given B.C.’s pandemic restrictions at the time, they weren’t expecting to open until September, later than usual.
Bose says it costs $6,000 “just to open the gates,” for extra fertilizer, design costs and maintenance.
“And if everything gets shut down again and we end up not being able to open, or we’re restricted to a certain number of people like we were last year, it doesn’t make sense financially,” said Bose, whose wife Novy helps run everything.
“It’s a lot of work for us that would go to waste, too.”
The family’s 25-acre cornfield labyrinth first opened in 1999.
Last year, the maze design celebrated the 50th anniversary of Douglas College for a shortened season, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 12.
In early October, the maze was temporarily closed for a day or two after vandals struck.
“It wasn’t as much fun operating the maze last year,” Bose said, “because we couldn’t get any of the groups that normally come every year, the groups that really make it a success – boy scouts, girl guides, the youth groups, because they weren’t meeting.
“We were restricted to 50 people at a time, and we were constantly in fear of someone working for us getting COVID, and that was extremely stressful.”
Bose said the decision not to do the maze this year was made with mixed emotions.
“We’re letting people know now,” he said. “We love the people, we love doing the maze and seeing the people who come every year. If we didn’t love the people and the support we get in the community, we would have stopped many years ago. Right now, it’s just a pause because of the pandemic.
“We feel bad for the groups and people who have supported us for the past 21 years,” Bose added. “We have group leaders now who came when they were young kids, and now they’re bringing their kids. People have told us they met in the maze and are now married, those kinds of stories.”
Bose said the support the family got after last year’s night of vandalism was “amazing, overwhelming,” and allowed them to finish the season after that.
“We took that one personally because of the level of violence,” he said, “but we’ve been broken into and vandalized every year we’ve done the maze – tents stolen, all that. But we replaced the stuff and kept going.”
In a typical year, close to 1,000 people would walk through the maze on a sunny Friday evening, Bose noted.
The numbers last year were nowhere close to that, with the 50-person limit imposed.
And now, Bose will “actually have a summer” this year.
“For those two months we’re doing the maze, laundry backs up, groceries don’t get bought, because every minute we’re not at our real jobs, we’re at the cornfield,” he said. “Life gets very challenging during those weeks, but at the same time we love the people who come. We’re going to miss it this year, for sure, but we are also going to have a bit of time to get out on the boat and do whatever. We’ll just look forward to next year.”