Bert Bouwman isn't creating just any corn maze. He's shaping it to draw Minnesota Twins fans.
Bert Bouwman, who grew up in Brazil, hasn't been familiar with America's pastime for all that long, but you can tell he's a Twins fan.
Just take a look at his 15-acre corn field.
At first glance, it might not look that unusual, but right off Hwy. 169 in Brooklyn Park lie the "bare bones" of a Minnesota Twins-themed corn maze.
Bouwman calls it the Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Corn Maze, and its filled with carvings in the shape of Twins logos and a large baseball. It's set to open Sept. 18 -- a Saturday when the Twins will be playing the A's, if you're keeping score.
Bouwman, who immigrated from Brazil 10 years ago, works part time as a farmer growing 45 acres of sweet corn that he sells to grocers. It's not enough to be his sole income, which is why he got into the corn maze business; he previously worked at Sever's Corn Maze and Fall Festival in Shakopee.
"I had a good relationship with them," said Bouwman, "but it got crowded and they were self-sufficient. I was ready to move on."
So his search began. While driving down Hwy. 169 in January, he spotted the perfect location, one large enough for his plans and far away from other competition.
In this economy, Bouwman knew he had to go a step further than just creating a maze. He needed a theme.
"The new Twins stadium has been a good addition to the city, so I thought it would be a good theme for a maze," he said.
After getting approval from Brooklyn Park and the Twins, Bouwman began strategizing.
"I did it the old-fashioned way: On the kitchen table with some grid paper," Bouwman said.
A GPS system wasn't necessary, said Bouwman. Along with his 10-year-old son, he measured the field and planted markers. Then, starting in June, he used a hoe to cut away the corn stalks that he'd planted in May. Through the whole process he only made one mistake, which he was able to correct, he said.
"To carve a maze, you have to be careful when cutting the corn because you can't replant it," Bouwman said.
Six months, a dozen people, and more than $100,000 later, Bouwman is fine-tuning the maze, mowing the lawn and killing weeds.
While it's shaping up, Bouwman said his biggest concern is the weather.
"After all the effort and work put in the maze, one storm could wipe it out," he said. "It's a huge gamble."
If a severe hailstorm or high winds blow through, then the stress and worry will have been in vain, he said.
On the other hand, "having people walk through the gate after all the planting and hoeing, and see them leave with big smiles, will make it all worth it."
Hannah Gruber • 612-673-4864