Life found a way: Interview with York Maze’s Tom Percy

The gates to York Maze have once again burst open for another summer season of getting lost. However, as well as all the usual corn-based fun, and the massive maize maze, things have gotten a bit prehistoric at the family attraction just outside Elvington. Howard caught up with owner Tom Percy (AKA Farmer Tom) to see what was going on.

Howard: Tom! Thanks for the chat. I have to ask… judging by the way you’re dressed, something odd is going on at York Maze.

Tom: It is. You might be able to tell by the way I’m dressed, but this year York Maze is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, which is the most iconic dinosaur film ever made. And I love dinosaurs, my kids love dinosaurs, and I’m pretty sure everyone loves dinosaurs.

Howard: I certainly do. So is it purely because of the film’s anniversary, or is it special to you some other way?

Tom: Bit of both, really. We usually focus the design of the maze on an anniversary or special date. We were casting our thoughts around about what to do this year, and then I heard it was 25 years since Jurassic Park was released I knew it had to be that, so we stopped looking.

York Maze Aerial Photography

Howard: When did the planning for this year’s maze start? Was it back before the end of last year?

Tom: No, we usually let the season finish and get Halloween out of the way before we start planning the following year. After that we start thinking and get everyone involved in the brainstorming process, before eventually creating the final layout of the maze. That takes a lot of work, both creating an image that looks right, and somehow making it function as an actual maze that people can explore.

Howard: When do you plant the corn?

Tom: Around April usually. We get the crops good and healthy and then around June – a month prior to the maze opening to the public – we start to cut the design into the field.

Howard: Ahh! So you grow it, then you chop in the picture?

Tom: Yes. Secret’s out. We use GPS to plot the design out into the corn and then follow that course, like a dot-to-dot, removing certain maize plants to create the paths of the image. It’s a tough job, as we can never truly tell how effective the finished job is until we’re done.

Howard: Other than the huge dinosaur maze, what else is new at York Maze this year?

Tom: Well, related to dinosaurs, this year’s new attraction is called the Volcorno, which, funnily enough, is a volcano made from corn. Everything we do here is linked in some way to corn. So kids can climb up the Volcorno as it spins and then slide down the other side. We also have a new stage show – we always try to have a new stage show each year, so that’s something to look forward too.

Howard: Nice. So, finally… any hints about what next year’s maze might depict?

Tom: I can honestly say that I’m still fully focused on this year and haven’t given it the slightest thought.

Howard: So would you be up for Your Local Link readers suggesting something?

Tom: Yes, most definitely. There are always so many different things taking place, from special occasions to anniversaries, so we’d love to hear some suggestions. Please do get in touch if you have any ideas.

Howard: Cheers Tom!

 

York Maze is open until the 3rd September. Find out more (and make suggestions fr next year) at www.yorkmaze.com

 

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