Lacombe corn maze celebrates Man in Motion

The Man in Motion looms larger than life over a cornfield west of Lacombe.

The Man in Motion looms larger than life over a cornfield west of Lacombe.

This summer, the Kraay family ­— owners and operators of the Lacombe Corn Maze — will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Paralympian Rick Hansen’s wheelchair marathon in support of programs related to spinal cord injuries.

Now CEO of a foundation that bears his name, Hansen started from a mall in Vancouver on March 21, 1985, on the Man in Motion World Tour, modelled after Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope.

Hansen logged more than 40,000 km in 34 countries and raised $26 million to support people who, like him, saw their lives changed forever after suffering spinal cord injuries.

With the support of the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Kraay family has placed an image of Hansen in his wheelchair at the centre of their 2011 corn maze, which is now starting its 12th season.

“It started out as something to kind of help the family farm and it’s turned out to be much more than that,” said Rachel Kraay, partner in the operation with her husband, Reuben, and his parents, Ed and Linda.

Over the years, the Kraays have added a variety of corny attractions to give their visitors a truly a-maize-ing experience.

All three of Rachel and Reuben’s children, ages six, four and two, were raised with the corn maze in their backyard. Rachel said she doesn’t know if they’re aware yet that other people don’t have talking chickens, gemstone sluices and giant board games in their backyards.

This year, the Kraays have added a few new attractions and expanded some of the features, including the Corn-er Store.

“We’ve got some more giant slides, we’ve got some giant spider webs to climb on, we’ve expanded our gemstone mining to include a lot more different gems. We have a chicken show — basically an animatronic singing, telling jokes, storytelling chicken.”

Once the maze closes for the season, the corn goes to a neighbouring farmer for cattle feed. The Kraays choose a variety of maize that grows extra tall and is well suited as livestock feed but not for human consumption, said Rachel.

General admission to the Lacombe corn maze, located off Hwy 11 about midway between Gull Lake and Lacombe, is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 55 and up and for children four to 12, and free for children three and under. Season passes and group rates are also available.

Normal hours are Monday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with reduced hours in effect from Sept. 6 to Oct. 22, which will be the last day of operations for 2011.

The Rick Hansen Foundation will receive proceeds from the two upcoming long weekends at the corn maze.

For details, visit www.lacombecornmaze.com or call 403-302-1709.

While the Lacombe corn maze opens for business on Friday, wet weather has delayed opening of the attractions at the Bowden Sunmaze until Saturday, Aug. 6, including the U-pick garden and the sunflower and corn mazes, said owner-operator John Mills.

The Bowden Sunmaze is located at Eagle Creek farm on Range Road 14, about five km west of Bowden.

August hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $6 for children and students five to 17 and free for children four and under. Groups discounts are available.

Visit www.sunmaze.ca or call 877-224-3939 to learn more.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com