Weekend Tourist //Camels, canaries, corn and fine craft

For some reason I was reluctant to visit one of Minnesota’s many corn mazes. But last year I succumbed to the right and left turns and occasional dead ends and got lost in the excitement of field crop fun. Now I know I won’t miss another year — and you’ve still got time to join in.

Sever Peterson settled into the Minnesota River valley in 1890 and began farming sweet corn. Four generations later, the same family is still tilling the soil. While the bulk of their business is selling fresh produce in 17 farm stands throughout the metro area, their Shakopee corn maze has grown over the last 15 years to become one of the largest corn mazes in the country. Yes, you may wonder, there are corn mazes throughout the U.S. and Canada. And the origins of topiary mazes actually dates back to the 13th century in Belgium. This is historic entertainment.

Sever’s maze covers more than 10 acres, but clearly-defined, wide aisles make maneuvering through the towering corn stalks a breeze. This year’s theme is “Out of this World.” Every maze-goer receives a guide showing the spaceship design. Mark your path on the paper and find your way to 26 location markers. If you find the six signs with a special markings you can enter to win a prize.

Up close, the corn stalks look like a bamboo forest. The segmented stalks sprout yellow corn cobs that ultimately become animal feed. My friend and I probably only walked about a quarter of the maze, but that was enough for us because there are plenty of other things to do there and we were getting hungry.

The spacious courtyard area is lined with food booths and more attractions. As you can probably guess, we had corn dogs and roasted corn, hand-picked that morning. We wandered around watching kids play on the air-filled jumping pillows, navigate the strawbale maze, shoot a corn cannon and ride a camel. Our favorite part was seeing kids and adults dive and roll around in the corn pit — a giant swimming pool of golden kernels. Then we fed exotic animals in the petting zoo, watched canaries land on people’s shoulders in the aviary, saw live pig races and finally purchased prize pumpkins in the pick-you-own pumpkin patch.

About four miles from Sever’s, just past Shakopee’s quaint downtown, is one of Minnesota’s last trading posts. Run by the Estenson family for more than 20 years, the Shakopee Trading Post is a treasure trove of authentic Native American arts and crafts including a vast assortment of stunning sterling silver jewelry. All pieces in the store are made by hand by local, national and Canadian artisans as well as by the store’s talented family of artists. Walls and shelves are stocked with porcupine quill boxes, colorful beadwork, Navajo rugs, braided grasses, hand-harvested wildrice, and plenty of birch bark creations. The store also sells many raw materials such as stones and beads and tobacco tin covers that pow wow participants use to decorate their clothing. If you need a Minnesota gift for anyone or want to get a head start on your holiday shopping don’t miss this unique treasure.

For an easy map to Shakopee destinations write to WeekendTourist@mnpubs.com

Sever’s Corn Maze
Southwest corner of Canterbury Downs
Open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Oct. 15–16, 20–23, 29–30, last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m.
$13, free for ages 3 and under (get $1 off coupon at severscornmaze.com)

Shakopee Trading Post

723 W. First Ave.
Open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Saturday; 12–5 p.m. Sunday