Petaluma corn maze opens for fall season

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Where: 450 Stony Point Road, Petaluma

When: Sept. 27 through Nov. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Sunday for the day maze. For the night maze, hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission: Free for children 5 and under. General admission is $7 for the day maze, and $10 for the night maze.

Information: petalumapumpkinpatch.com

The giant corn maze in Petaluma isn’t just for kids.

Usually, Santa Rosa couple Joseph Evans and Nadine Salas visit the maze with Salas’ grandkids. But this year, they came on their own.

“He dragged me here!” Salas said with a laugh. “I thought, wait a minute, why are we here? We don’t have my grandson.”

“I just like coming to the corn maze,” Evans replied. “It makes me feel like a little kid again.”

The couple are among thousands who navigate the 4-acre corn maze along Highway 101 each fall. The corn stalks are 10 feet tall, and it can take 45 minutes for people to find the single exit. Petaluma farmer Jim Groverman designs a new pattern every year, and opened the maze for the season Sept. 27.

Windsor resident Caprice Disbrow has been coming to the corn maze ever since she was a kid. She said she still remembers the time that the way out was by making only right-hand turns. And in her opinion, the maze only improves each time she comes back.

This year, she went through the maze with four generations of her family: her grandma, mom, sister and nephews.

“We love the maze,” Disbrow said. “It seems like they want to bring together the community and I really like that.”

When Groverman started the corn maze more than 20 years ago, he never expected it to be this popular. His first maze was just 2.5 acres. When it went viral — the Associated Press ran a wire photo of the maze and a German newspaper even wrote a story about it — he decided to do it again the following year, only bigger.

Groverman, who grew up on a ranch, said he hopes the maze and his other attractions — including a pumpkin patch and horses — will give people a fun glimpse of farm life.

“It’s a good feeling that people keep coming back year after year,” Groverman said. “I must be doing something right because they’re enjoying it, and that’s what I’m after.”

For some visitors, this fall will be their first time navigating the renowned corn maze. Santa Rosa resident Alfred Dee brought his 15-month-old daughter to the attraction. He said it seemed like a great, family-friendly outing.

Samantha Boyer has gone through the maze pretty much every year since she was little, but this year, she brought her friend, Natalie Kidd. Kidd said she complains about the backed-up traffic the attraction causes every fall, but thought she should see what all the fuss was about.

“I’m nervous, but I’m also excited,” Kidd said before she went into the maze.

When she came out about an hour later, Kidd was grinning. It was challenging, she said, but “in a good way.” Definitely worth the $7,” she added.

Petaluma resident Makena Scott echoed Kidd’s sentiments. She said the maze is a great way to start the fall season.

“The Halloween spirit just drives me here,” she said. “Everyone should come out.”

Where: 450 Stony Point Road, Petaluma

When: Sept. 27 through Nov. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Sunday for the day maze. For the night maze, hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission: Free for children 5 and under. General admission is $7 for the day maze, and $10 for the night maze.

Information: petalumapumpkinpatch.com

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