Ready to a-maze you

Justin Bowen

Photo By Carli Cutchin

Justin Bowen is the corn guy extraordinaire at The MAiZE at Bartley Ranch Regional Park. He manages the corn maze, works its ticket booth and concession stand and helps the totally lost find their way out of the labyrinth—not to mention that he cleared the crazy paths through the corn himself. Managing The MAiZE, however, is just his seasonal job. Bowen, who works on a ranch near Shasta, Calif., is a self-described cowboy by trade. The maze, which has a Reno Arch theme this year, offers two different paths to choose from. There’s a relatively simple one for youngsters and a more intricate and deceptive one for adventurous types, both young and old. Call 326-5660 for times and prices.

Do many people want to cheat [by looking at the map of the maze]?

Yeah, about every third person seems to want to cheat. Sometimes we have short corn, and it looks like you can cheat. People will want to cut through that.

Will cutting help?

We have two different mazes, so the only thing you’re doing is skipping through and going to a different maze. You’re not doing yourself a favor. You’re just making yourself more lost.

How is a corn maze designed?

We design it on the computer first. We get the dimensions of the field [and go from there]. The first maze we made pretty simple for younger kids, but even at nighttime you can get really lost. The second one is really difficult. It’s more fun to do it at night.

Did you design the maze?

No, Chad Williams designed it. I cut the corn. I just [went] out there and started whacking away.

Does anyone try to pick the corn?

All the time. Everyone always wants to touch the corn, pick the corn.

Do you ever snack on the corn?

No, it’s actually field corn. It’s livestock corn. It’s grown for the purpose of feeding animals. The thing about field corn is that it grows really tall, so it’s good for a maze.

Do people ever get completely lost?

Yeah, [all the time]. We have people out there that are wearing shirts just like me [that say “Corn Cops"], and they’re always talking with people, asking them how they’re doing.

How well does the staff know the maze?

We know it by heart. One of the things we pride ourselves on is if a mother comes looking for her son, we can find him like that [snaps his fingers].

How did the Reno Arch design come about?

The park, Bartley Ranch, wanted to do something more [Reno-themed], so we decided on the arch.

Any plans for next year’s design?

I’d like to do the Nevada Wolf Pack [logo]. I think that’d give us a lot of publicity, and it’d be real unique—unique to Reno.

Any special plans for Halloween?

We’ll have a Field of Screams, and we’ll have people in [the corn] scaring people.