A family near St. Adolphe is attempting to build the world's largest snow maze.
Since 1998, Clint and Angie Masse have been operating A Maze In Corn off St. Mary's Road, north of St. Adolphe. Realizing they run a very seasonal operation and willing to tap into the winter tourism industry, Masse says he decided they should attempt a snow maze. But, Masse isn't interested in just any snow maze, he would like his name stamped in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest snow maze ever built.
If all goes according to plan, the snow maze built on the very spot of the corn maze will measure 4,200 feet or nearly 80 per cent the length of a mile. Masse says they have already been in contact with the people at Guinness, confirming the world record requirements.
Masse and his crew are now building wooden forming to hold the snow in place. The walls inside the maze are expected to span six feet, six inches high and two feet wide. Once they start building the walls, he expects to set up 200 feet of forming at a time. The snow is then poured into the forming, similar to a concrete pour. Masse says his expectation is that it will take four hours for the snow to settle and then they will strip the forming and move along to the next 200 feet.
The maze will sit atop a snow base nearly two feet deep, similar to an ice bed. And when you consider all of that snow, plus what is needed for 4,200 feet of walls, Masse says they will probably need the equivalent of 300 semi loads of snow. You don't have to look at the landscape very long to realize the improbability of finding that much snow this early in the season. So, Masse is making the snow himself. Using a pump that can push 100 gallons of water per minute at a rate of up to 400 pounds per square inch, Masse is tapping into the river nearby to make his snow.
When asked Wednesday morning how soon his project might be complete, Masse said opening day is a bit of a moving target.
"We can't really say because we haven't at all built one wall," says Masse.
He says if they can build 200 feet of wall per day, they would be looking at about 22 days of work, meaning a start date of January 2nd could be possible.
"It's going to be slow going," he suggests. "I think we're going to be excited at first, and then that halfway point it's going to be more like a marathon and then towards the end, I think we're going to be ready to sit down and have a hot chocolate."
As for how long the snow maze might be in operation, Masse says that will be very weather dependent. He says if all goes well, they might be able to push the season to mid-March. The problem is because they are building on the site of next year's corn maze and because of how much snow will be sitting on that field, Masse says they are going to want things to thaw rather quickly in spring in order to be able to plant corn in time for next season.
Masse says attempting this Guinness world record comes at a cost. His best guess is that when you factor in the supplies, equipment and manpower, it will set him back $50,000. Masse says once they open it up to the public, they will probably charge rates similar to what they charge in summer for walking through the corn.
Masse admits he isn't aware of too many other large snow mazes in the world. The current record holder is one from Thunder Bay, which isn't erected every year. He notes there was also one in Thompson last year and is aware of the famous one in Poland.
"Poland has got what I would say the mother of all snow mazes, it's really cool, got castles integrated into it," says Masse.
While the maze near St. Adolphe will not have castles this winter, Masse says he is hoping it will become a tradition to build the maze every year, making it better and more entertaining each winter.