The pandemic might be upending trick-or-treating but another tradition of Halloween season, the corn maze, is still going strong.
It appears that most farms around New Hampshire which hosted corn mazes last year are holding them again his year, taking advantage of the dry weather and people being more comfortable outdoors.
There are changes, of course, most visible in layout.
“The paths are a foot wider than they were before. We’ve aimed for 5 feet, now it’s 6 feet,” said Nate Kimball, owner of Beech Hill Farm in Hopkinton. “We have quite a few spots where people can move over to the side, let everybody pass if a group is moving too fast or moving too slow.
“It’s like hiking etiquette: if somebody’s in more of a rush than you are, pull over to the side, give them space, let them by.”
Another goal of mazes in the COVID era: Reducing the number of dead-end paths in the pattern. These are a traditional indication that maze-goers have gone astray but they’re also a place where different groups can pile up, getting closer than social distancing suggests.
“I’ve heard that (mazes) are trying to avoid them,” Agricultural Commissioner Shawn Jasper said of dead ends.
Beech Hill Farm has two mazes in its 8-acre cornfield, including one built on the pattern of the Olympic logo of interlocked rings. “That makes it easier to do without dead ends, but it’s still a challenging maze,” said Kimball.
Beech Hill has spaced out the entrances and exits to the cornfield, having made changes in the spring to its farm stand.
“We changed the whole setup of our farm stand before we ever opened. We’re not having inside the stand, we moved to outdoor barns, open walls,” Kimball said. They also shift popular petting animals around more, “so we don’t have multiple people touching the same baby goat.
“It’s both for their safety and for ours – we deal with (the animals) every day,” he added.