Playing with Your Food | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Playing with Your Food

Get lost in the Smith Rock Ranch corn maze

Matt and Kendra Lisignoli, owners of Smith Rock Ranch, are smack dab in the middle of their busiest season of the year. Set among a blanket of bright orange globes, with the jagged backdrop of Smith Rock State Park, the site is postcard perfect—and Matt and Kendra recently talked with the Source about their corn maze, Halloween and, of course, the famed "pumpkin cannon."

During the month of October, the Terrebonne ranch is flooded with families and school children hunting for the perfect Halloween pumpkin. It's the most fruitful time of year for those who subscribe to the pumpkin, squash and corn-based economy, like the Lisignolis do. They house two pumpkin patches and other autumnal activities, including a petting zoo, wagon rides and the previously mentioned pumpkin cannon where amateur artillerymen can fire the orange spheres into a field facing the Cascade Mountains.

Smith Rock Ranch also works with the world's largest corn maze consulting company (yes, that's a thing), the MaiZE, to design its yearly corn-based labyrinth. The MaiZE designed more than 250 cornfield mazes in the U.S., Canada, Poland and the United Kingdom just last year.

SW: Tell me about the history of the corn maze at Smith Rock Ranch?

KL: We began working with the MaiZE Company in 2002 when they helped us design and implement our first maze. In 2003, my husband, Matt, and I designed our own maze and went through the process of putting the design onto the field. It took us a total of five days to finish the process. It was brutally tedious and hot (this was in July). But the next year we were down to three and a half days to finish, and by 2012 we could finish the entire design in two days. This year our 19-year-old twin daughters, who have helped in years past, put the design into the field by themselves.

SW: How do you make the maze?

KL: The process of building the maze begins with our family sitting around the dinner table discussing possible to themes to use. Once we agree on a theme I will start drawing sketches to best capture the idea. Then we send our design off to the MaiZE Company and they use their program to make a maze out of our drawing. Once we receive the outline, we can get to work laying the design into the field.

We count and mark every row making sure to not to skip a single row, which could be disastrous! We then take out the corn that is marked, forming the design.

SW: What is the inspiration for the theme each year?

Every year the theme is different—something that is popular at the time or maybe a movie or icon we think would be cool to see as a design. It's like a giant canvas we get to play with!

SW: Have you ever lost anyone in the maze?

KL: We have had several people lost over the years, but we have always managed to find everyone before we go home at night. The maze has varied in acreage year to year. The biggest maze for us being 9 acres, which after loosing several customers, we decided was too big. This year the maze is 6 acres. The main secret for getting through the Maize is having someone who is an excellent map-reader with you!

Smith Rock Ranch

1250 NE Wilcox Ave., Terrebonne

Open through Oct. 31

Mon-Fri 12-6 pm

Sat.-Sun. 10-6 pm

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