EAU CLAIRE — Leffel Roots Orchard is using this year’s corn maze to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
Leffel Roots Orchard, just south of Eau Claire, has created corn mazes for the fall season every year since 2016. This year’s maze is a tribute to the 19th Amendment and the suffragists who fought for its passing.
Inside the maze, visitors will have the opportunity to vote on orchard-related questions such as the best apple or favorite orchard activity.
“Every year we have a different (maze) design,” said Laura Leffel, who owns the orchard with her husband Jim.
The orchard includes nine acres of apples, two acres of pumpkins and a 10-acre corn maze.
The first maze at Leffel Roots in 2016 was a castle. “We had never done one before. It had a lot of straight lines,” Leffel said.
The 2017 maze celebrated the 100th anniversary of Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, the football home of the Wisconsin Badgers.
The 2018 maze commemorated the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.
The 2019 maze had an apple theme.
When possible, the couple like to devote the maze to the 100th anniversary of something significant, Leffel said.
“This is a pretty major voting year,” she said of the 2020 election. “Maybe this will encourage people to get out and vote regardless of what your party affiliation is. We wanted to put something out there that everybody can get behind.”
The Leffels design each year’s maze themselves.
“We start with a drawing on a piece of paper, then use a drawing program, which Jim puts into his phone,” Leffel said.
While some orchards create their maze with a full-sized tractor that is programmed by GPS, the Leffels create theirs with a more hands-on approach.
“We do ours the old-fashioned way, with a riding mower,” Leffel said. “Jim looks at the GPS on his phone as he mows the corn with a little John Deere riding lawn mower.”
Jim Leffel started cutting this year’s maze in July. It took him about eight hours for the initial cut.
“He also uses an aerial drone to make sure he is keeping the lines straight,” Laura Leffel said.
Jim Leffel takes the riding lawn mower to the maze over the course of the season for cleanup work, she said.
The maze and the rest of the orchard opened to the public for the season on Sept. 2. The orchard will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. On Friday and Saturday nights in October, the orchard will be open until 10 p.m. to allow visitors to walk the maze in the dark.
The cost for doing the maze at Leffel Roots is $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under age 5 are admitted free.