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Stumptown Stumper

by: L.E. BASKOW, You can spend hours trying to get through the Corn Maize at Sauvie Island’s Pumpkin Patch – without ever knowing what the paths represent from above.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: How many feet would you walk if you walked the shortest correct path through this year's Corn Maize at Sauvie Island's Pumpkin Patch?

A: There are several ways to get through the maze, but the quickest route is a mere 3,830 feet, says Craig Easterly, manager of the Corn Maize, which opened on Sauvie Island in 1999.

You won't be able to tell from the ground that you're navigating your way through an image of a tractor pulling a load of pumpkins, but aerial photographs reveal the intricate design of this year's maze.

So just how is the maze designed and created?

Easterly says he sketches a new design each year and sends it to Brett Herbst, a world-famous maze designer in Utah who's done mazes depicting everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Don Ho.

Herbst prepares a grid pattern for the design and sends it to Easterly, who draws it across a five-acre field with blue dye. He plants four 50-pound bags of corn seed in the grid pattern, makes sure the plantings are extra thick so you can't see through the rows, and then sits back and watches it grow.

The maze is open from mid-August to Oct. 31, with a Haunted Maize event starting Oct. 13 and running Friday and Saturday nights through the end of the month and, of course, on Halloween.

Next year, Easterly says, he hopes to double the size of the maze so he can do 'more fancy stuff,' such as the Trail Blazer logo or even a portrait of a prominent Portland figure. No word yet on who that might be.

Next week's Stumper: Which two prominent local figures in Portland's history drew the biggest crowds to their funerals?

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