Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Lost in Oz – New England Fall Events Follows the Yellow Brick Road in Portsmouth, RI

Lost in Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
Lost in the Wizard of Oz Corn Maze
It’s no secret that I have an abysmal sense of direction. I credit this unfortunate trait to growing up in New England, where roads twist, turn, and appear to have no reason to their patterning. It would seem that someone like me has no business being in a corn maze where the cornstalks are too high to spot a landmark but I’m here to tell you—if I can do it, you can do it—and it’s just pure fall fun.

In New England, most corn mazes open up around Labor Day as the corn needs to grow tall enough to make a true maze of the experience. Some farms offer a mid-summer sunflower maze but those have pretty much wrapped up by the time the fall corn mazes are ready to roll.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
A perfect New England day at
Escobar Farm's corn maze
Corn mazes are a fascinating and wholly temporary fall attraction.  Every season new corn is planted and with it comes a new maze —different themes, highlights, and pathways. One of the treats of a corn maze is seeing the birds-eye view of a particular maze, an aerial photograph of the maze pattern cut through the cornfield—the one chance to capture a season’s maze for posterity.

Recently, New England Fall Events had the pleasure of a pretty little drive down to Escobar Farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The expanse of the cornfield was on full, glorious display—glossy green corn stalks set against an impossibly blue sky. It was an outstandingly lovely day in southern New England.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Barn_New England Fall Events
Check in at the barn at the maze
entrance for your map to Oz
We checked in at the quaint red barn at the entrance and we were handed a map of the maze. Escobar Farm has hosted corn mazes every year, often with a Rhode Island theme. Last year’s theme highlighted Portsmouth’s 375th anniversary; other years they have honored the Providence Bruins, the state bird Rhode Island Red chicken, and Aquidneck Island (which is the name of the island where Portsmouth is situated).

In 2014, Escobar Farm has chosen to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz with a maze that carves their cornfield into the Emerald City, the yellow brick road, and the Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow characters. It’s particularly interesting that Escobar’s maze is designed to be two distinct mazes which visually mesh into a single The Wizard of Oz image. This is a very attractive feature because you’ll have the choice to go through one maze (half the cornfield) or to do both for a longer experience. Families with kids will enjoy the option in the event that their little ones are only up for half the maze.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Map_New England Fall Events
Escobar Farm's Wizard of Oz maze
celebrates the film's 75th Anniversary 
Never one to do anything halfway, we were game for the entire maze. With the maze map in hand, we dutifully followed every nook and corner to find our way through identifying when we were in the bottom of the letter B or walking through the arm of the tin man. We climbed up the bridge for a scenic view of the scenic farm property and we stumbled across other maze-goers getting mixed up and doubling-back.

Escobar Farm has gone the extra mile to incorporate Wizard of Oz goodies throughout the maze—we loved the little screen-printed Oz flags and Yellow Brick Road signs nestled in the most unexpected places. We found characters such as the toy-sized Cowardly Lion planted in the tall stalks. After all, “there is no place like home” so it was only fitting that we were greeted by the ruby slipper stone indicating as much at the very end.

Escobar Farm RI_ Cowardly Lion Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Barn_New England Fall Events
Escobar Farm’s corn maze is a joyful way to spend an hour or so. Each maze takes about 30-40 minutes which makes it easy after completing the first maze to decide if you are up for the second.
Starting Labor Day Weekend, Escobar Farm’s corn maze is open during the daytime hours on the weekends and they have a cow train for the kids, a hayride, and when pumpkins are ready, a PYO pumpkin area too. The staff couldn’t possibly be friendlier and the farm is postcard pretty.

Corn mazes are a great way to enjoy an hour or two in the fall—it’s a super fun idea for a fall birthday party (especially if you make it a Wizard of Oz themed party!) as it appeals to kids, teenagers, families, and couples.

Escobar Farm RI_Ruby Slippers_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
A lovely ruby slipper stone greeted us to
mark a successful trip through the maze
The cost of admission for the corn maze is $8 for ages 12 and up. $6 for ages 5-11y, and children 4y and under are free.

The corn maze will be open through November 2nd and as it gets later in the season, the maze will surely get busy. Go in September and early October to beat the crowds!

Escobar Farm will be hosting a Harry Potter Day on September 20th , a Pumpkin Festival on September 27th,  and a Halloween Costume Party on October 25th so there is plenty of fun to be had in Portsmouth this fall.
Note: each event has a designated rain-date.

Tips for visiting Escobar Farm Corn Maze

  • There are picnic tables for those who opt to pack a lunch but the farm also sells light concessions like animal crackers, popcorn, candy, drinks.
  • Escobar Farm has plenty of parking in the field in front of the maze.
  • Escobar Farm’s corn maze is a pet-friendly maze but dogs must be leashed at all times and don’t even think of not cleaning up after your pooch. If you need a baggie for cleaning up, ask the folks at the check-in barn who can supply you with one before you head in.
  • The maze is ADA accessible, including the port-o-johns.
  • There were port-o-johns available at the maze entrance.
  • It’s a stroller-friendly maze. We recommend packing a sturdier stroller rather your light-weight umbrella one.
  • The double maze is a great option—you can decide after going through the first maze whether you’re up for the second (but we think you won’t pass on the extra fun!).
  • Wizard of Oz-themed items hidden within the maze keep kids (and adults) engaged in the theme and the experience.
  • You can follow the map or you can prolong the fun by attempting to find your way through without any navigation help.

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