Autumn has finally arrived in western New England, bringing with it changing leaves, chilly nights, and of course, plenty of fall fun like apple picking, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes.
Through the months of September and October, locals and travelers alike can make a pitstop at Hicks Family Farm, located along the scenic Mohawk Trail. The farm boasts an impressive corn maze that hosts a family-friendly scavenger hunt by day and a frighteningly good haunted maze by night.
Now in its 11th year, the maze has grown more popular and gets bigger each year to accommodate the growing crowds that show up looking to get lost in the stalks. Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan traveled to Franklin County to bring us this next story.
Read the full transcription:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Autumn has finally arrived in western New England, bringing with it changing leaves, chilly nights, and of course, plenty of fall fun like apple picking, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes.
Through the months of September and October, locals and travelers alike can make a pit stop at Hicks Family Farm, located along the scenic Mohawk Trail. The farm boasts an impressive corn maze that hosts a family-friendly scavenger hunt by day and a frighteningly good haunted maze by night.
Now, in its 11th year, the maze has grown more popular and gets bigger each year to accommodate the growing crowds that show up looking to get lost in the stalks. Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan traveled to Franklin County to bring us this next story
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: From this vantage point, it looks just like a field of corn. And this one as well. From this vantage point, it appears there’s a place inside the cornfield to gain an even better vantage point. From here, we can see people walking in and out of the cornfields and families actually buying tickets to do the same.
Maybe this isn’t just some run-of-the-mill side of the road corn maze.
Shahid Jalil, Corn Mazer Goer: We’ve been doing this at the Hicks Family Farm for, I think, since our daughter was one years old. So, maybe like last seven years. And so, it’s a family tradition every October we come here.
Brian Sullivan: Every Saturday and Sunday from the first weekend in September to the last day of October, visitors travel from near and far to the town of Charlemont, Massachusetts, to be a part of this fall festival. The corn maze that began as a means of supplementing income has now turned into an annual tradition.
Paul Hicks, Hicks Family Farm: Eleven years ago, my family went out of the dairy business. And we wanted to continue to keep the farm going, so we did go into the beef business. We do have thirty five head of cattle, but we needed somehow to, you know, support the farm.
So, we came up with the idea of starting up a corn maze.
Brian Sullivan: Of course, the fun goes beyond just the corn maze. There’s a giant game of checkers available to renew a sibling rivalry. Mini golf, where a dad can teach his daughter the finer points of putting — or not.
They’ve got baby goats who’s cute factor breaks the scale, and for many of the local kids, this place is their rite of passage.
Autumn Kersavage, Corn Maze Worker: Yeah, I’ve been doing it since I was really young, so probably like five years.
And originally I just did the one during the day because I was — I didn’t really want to get scared because I was so young. But now, I work in the night one and I scare people and it’s it’s pretty good.
Brian Sullivan: Yes, it’s true that when the sun goes down, these winding paths where the kids and adults get to have fun doing a scavenger hunt during the day, turn into one of the spookier haunted corn mazes in the Commonwealth. But the haunting doesn’t start until early October. And since the maze changes shape every year, none of this happens without a plan.
Paul Hicks: Around March or April, we’ll get together on a rainy day and think of, you know, some different paths, different directions where we want to have the people go. And, you know, we kind of map it out on a piece of paper. And come, you know, June we plant the corn, and come out and process the paths.
Brian Sullivan: And the processor-in-chief is none other than Paul Hicks sister Joanne.
Joanne MacLean, Maze Maker: I come out when the corn is just this high, and I just start making paths. I do have a map that I work with. If some corn doesn’t come up in one spot, I might move the path over.
I got a little John Deere tractor with a blade on it, and that’s why there’s no sharp angles, everything’s circles. And I start around 4th of July.
Brian Sullivan: Luckily, it’s a labor of love, because it wasn’t always this easy when they planted the first cornfields years ago.
Joanne MacLeanMy brother says, ‘JoJo, we need a corn maze.” And I went, “well, OK.”
So, I just saw –I only had a hoe and rake. And I’m out here every morning by six, before it gets too hot. And just so … I like making things.
Brian Sullivan: Aside from making these trails, Joanne is also responsible for making all of the signs along the way, including the jokes that the maze wanderers pass by in their quest to find everything on the scavenger hunt list. The theme this year was chickens. I think I passed a couple of them in my travels.
My original plan was to stick around until nightfall for the haunted maze, but the scavenger hunt has been plenty of fun and I’m not sure my heart can take being scared tonight.
For me, I’ll use any excuse just to head out to the country, but it was extra special to be joined by so many others who also decided to stop by this cornfield on the Mohawk Trail in the little town of Charlemont.
Joanne MacLean: I like it that it’s entertaining people. And we get people from all over and you know, some people never been on a tractor before, or even seeing a live chicken or things like that. And so we’re bringing that to everybody.