Interview with WWLP

Watch the interview here.


Each fall a 300 year old farm in Sunderland is transformed into a sea of seed corn which from the sky shows an elaborate design. From the ground it’s a fun maze filled with twists and turns.

Mike Wisseman’s family has run Mike’s Maze for 17 years, with many famous faces gracing the corn field.

"We’ve had everybody. My favorite well obviously Mona Lisa because it was kind of a big breakthrough year for us," says Mike Wissemann.

The theme is designed by Mike’s daughter in law, Jess Wissemann, in the dead of winter, based on a famous person or major moment in history, this year the theme is America.

"We wanted something that was very American but non political and there is something uniquely American about the National Parks,” says Mike Wissemann.

"I started my design based on the WPA posters that were made in the 1930's to promote the national parks. I based the design off of that and I got a little creative and added Teddy Roosevelt's face into our geyser's steam," says Jess Wissemann.

Hidden inside the maze are large metallic cut outs of various animals that you might find inside a National Park.

"There are animals that can be found in National Parks around the country. Right now we are next to a bison which gives away one of the answers to our fun game that we have inside the maze this year,” says Jess Wissemann.

Visitors to the maze get a map and can set off to find these creatures and also answer trivia questions hidden in the maze. Explorers can get a prize if they get a certain number of these questions right.

“If they spot enough wildlife they are a certified Mike's Maze National Park Ranger and they win a coveted prized pumpkin. The stakes are quite high," says Dave Wissemann, who grows the pumpkin prizes.

The goal for the duo is to inspire visitors to take a trip to a National Park, and leave with a bit more knowledge than when they entered the maze.

"There is no way you can leave here without learning something about the National Parks this year," says Jess Wisseman.

Once night falls at Mike’s Maze things get a little bit spooky, with three activities with three different scare levels for visitors to enjoy.

The first is most recommended for families according to the Haunted Events Manager.

"Our daytime National Parks maze can be done at night with flashlights that is family friendly kid oriented a lot of laughing out there," says Brennan Mckenna, who organizes the frightful side of the maze.

The other options for families include a zombie paintball adventure which is considered the second tier in terms of fright. Visitors board a wagon armed with paintball guns and ride through a ghost town near the maze. There they can take aim at live zombies who have taken over the village.

"Our third tier is our haunted corn maze that is kind of the scariest we keep it family friendly to a certain extent but we don't recommend it for kids under 12 that you will come out hopefully screaming and having a good time, we don't go overboard with violence or gore just a screaming good time," says Mckenna.

The farm also has a pasture area which is an extra charge, but filled with slides, duck races and other activities for young ones. The maze will be open starting on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the haunted activities beginning at 7 p.m. They will also be opened on Columbus Day.

"People kind of long for that experience to get back to the farm even though this is a quirky way to get them back to the farm it's simple fun,” says Mike Wissemann.

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