Mike’s Maze gets surreal with design of Dali’s face

The Recorder, Friday, August 31, 2013. By Kathleen McKiernan

SUNDERLAND — Peering through 8 acres of corn stalks on the Warner Farm in Sunderland is Salvador Dali, the famous Spanish surrealist painter.

Today, Mike’s Maze celebrates its 14th year with a few new twists and turns. And this year’s theme is “illusion.”

The maze’s makers, Mike Wissemann and William Sillin, used GPS technology to create the cornfield design.

Mike’s Maze is famous for its unique and intricate designs. Past mazes included a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can, presidential candidates, King Tut and the Mona Lisa.

Mike’s Maze recruited a Missouri-based professional corn maze maker, Rob Stouffer of Precision Mazes.

Stouffer used GPS technology with highly advanced cornfield cutting techniques to create the image of Dali.

In the past, Wissemann, owner of the 200-acre Warner Farm, would cross-plant the cow corn in grid boxes to resemble graph paper on the ground instead of lining the corn seed in rows. And Sillin would map out the field using coordinates and computer software to break the design down into grids and put the design from the paper onto the field.

“In the past, I would cut the maze by hand,” Sillin said. “As we got more ambitious with designs, it’s become a bigger source of labor.”

Stouffer’s technology allowed the maze makers to create an image using dots to create a picture, not unlike a photographic print.

The trails are also wider and have more open space. It doesn’t feature the traditional narrow passages opening into large spaces.

“I don’t know how people will respond. This will be different, but I think people will enjoy it,” Sillin said.

The open pattern, however, takes away from the feeling of finding your way through winding narrow paths, Sillin said.

“People could say it’s not really a maze,” said Sillin. “But it allows more freedom of movement through the field and you still get lost. People will still get stuck and frustrated.”

To add to the illusion, an Ames room, a distorted room used to create an optical illusion and a mirror chamber will be alongside the maze within the cornfield for guests to experience.

Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm, 23 South Main St., is open until Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, Labor Day and Columbus Day. Admission prices are $10 for ages 13 and up, $8 for seniors and students and $7 for children 4 to 12. Children under 4 are free.