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Follow the Pumpkin Path
Amanda Lawton, Pumpkin Patch farm manager, has heard them all.
From using lasers to carve a path to planting the seeds for just the right picture, the farm’s annual corn maze is a guessing game for people of all ages.
“Nope, it’s done with measuring tapes and yarn,” said Eric Lawton, Amanda’s brother and cohort in building the maze.
For years, Amanda has been involved in some capacity following the designs of Roger Schmidt, owner of Sunny Farms.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” she said about first helping. “I volunteered to help and followed him around to learn how he did it.”
The past four years she’s been designing it herself with help this year from her mom Betsy.
From the aerial photo, people can see that this year’s maze celebrates the 75th year of the Olympic National Park using elements of their logo, initials and a 75.
The park contacted farm owner Theresa Lassila about the idea and she was on board. Amanda said there were no strict guidelines just the idea of celebrating the anniversary through the design.
“This is a pretty good one,” Amanda said.
She and her brother particularly like the cowboy boot design from 2010 that read “Yee-haw.”
Carving the right path
As usual, Amanda drew out several ideas on graph paper while brainstorming. She holds onto them from year to year and hopes to use an elk design and a pirate theme at some point.
On the paper, she estimates each graph square equals about 15 feet and scales it to the maze at just over six acres.
Amanda said it’s crucial to make sure the trails are spaced right so they aren’t too skinny.
“You don’t want people cutting through and ruining the walls,” she said. “It happens every year. A lot of it is kids making their own paths.”
With measurements in hand, the Lawtons go into the corn field about a month before it’s at its peak to measure and spray paint where they want to cut.
Next, they’ll use a Bobcat tractor with a front tiller to cut the maze.
“You cut between waist and shoulder high so you can see where you cut next,” Amanda said.
For an even and smooth look, they’ll go back in with machetes and hack down the leaves and branches.
Total, it takes about 2½ days to start constructing and finish.
The effort is worth it though as the maze and farm remain a big draw each fall, Amanda said.
“We have people who come out every year,” she said. “One woman has brought her grandson since he was a baby for 10 years. They get the same photo in the same spot every year. It’s a family tradition for a lot of people.”
Entry to the maze is $5 for 12 and under and $10 for 13 and up.
The Pumpkin Patch keeps multiple events going through October. Visitors can pick out pumpkins, shoot small pumpkins for a reward, see farm animals, visit the haunted house, climb the pumpkin tower and children can play in their own structure.
Eric Lawton runs the haunted house he calls Northwest Terror which boasts a creepy freak circus with him and his friends dressed as scary clowns. He said if there aren’t visitors to the haunted house, then they’ll go into the maze at night to give people an added fright.
“We usually have a bonfire going on those nights and you can hear people getting scared. It’s kind of funny,” Amanda said.
“Why go into a corn maze at night if you don’t want to get scared,” Eric said.
The haunted house is open Friday and Saturday nights through October sundown to closing at 10 p.m.
In the fields, Amanda said pumpkins did really well this year with several types available in shapes and sizes. Nearby, the pumpkin shoot continues with three shots for $5. If you make it in a barrel you win $100. Last year five people made the shot all in the same day, Eric said.
The most they’ve had make the shot was 12 makes in one season two years ago.
Overall, Eric said the Pumpkin Patch is a good place for family fun.
“Things like searching for pumpkins, a lot of families don’t have that time now,” he said. “This is a great place to come together.”