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Work on Improved Corn Maze Begins

May 19, 2000|COLL METCALFE

Another season of frustration is in the works for Ventura County residents as volunteers, designers and a top county official began carving out the Amazing Maize Maze on Thursday in Camarillo.

With hoes in hand, volunteers began creating passageways for the massive labyrinth on a five-acre cornfield at the intersection of Las Posas and Hueneme roads.

"When you get into that monster you're going to curse me," maze inventor Don Frantz said. "It's going to be difficult, more difficult than last year's."

In keeping with this year's theme, a millennial homage titled "Lost in Time," the maze is modeled on the Aztec Sun Stone, or calendar, which the ancient civilization used to time plantings.

The maze, which will open to the public June 8, will have a two-mile network of paths, with most leading nowhere.

According to designers, if all the right choices are made--the chances are astronomically high--the right path out of the maze is less than one-third of a mile.

Last year, more than 50,000 people got lost in the maze over the six weeks it was open. The maze closed early last year because of concerns about the fire danger of dried corn stalks.

This year, however, organizers plan to build two mazes with the hope of remaining open until the end of the year.

The second maze, fashioned after the outer ring of the Sun Stone which was used by the Aztecs as a compass, will be next to the one being now being created.

In July the seeds will be sown for the second maze with its public opening planned in September.

"There will be a longer opportunity for people to come in here and experience the maze," said Richard Rogers, owner of Pacific Earth Resources, which donated the cornfield. "It'll also give [visitors] enough time to get out."

The maze will include activities and games regarding the experience of getting lost.

The maze in Camarillo is one of eight that the company operates throughout the country, the designs of which are all based on time.

The maze in Rochester, N.Y., is modeled after a sun dial and shows the time. The one in Vernon, N.J., is a tribute to Albert Einstein, and a maze in Iowa is based on the rooster.

"That's the way farmers keep time out there," Frantz said, chuckling.

County Supervisor Frank Schillo traded in his usual suit and tie for an old pair of pants and sneakers to help with the creation.

The maze, he said, had all four elements, or "four F's," making it good for visitors and county residents: family fun, fund-raising, fun and it's fruitful economically.

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