By Brendan Bruman
Mark Benjamin has been coming up and creating mazes since he was young, making it a lifelong passion.
Benjamin, who owns and has been running Best Maze Corn Maze in Williamston for 21 years, says the enjoyment of building mazes started right in his own yard.
“When I was a little kid, my parents’ house had a lot of big oak trees, and they would have a lot of leaves in the lawn each year,” said Benjamin. “So I would rake maze paths in their yard and play tag with all of the neighbor kids.”
Best Maze is known for very creative maze designs, with Benjamin being the mastermind behind them.
Best Maze’s design this year is based around Fairy Tales such as Cinderella and Peter Pan, for Benjamin though, there’s one from the past that specifically sticks out in his mind as it even confused him.
“We did a Pure Michigan one, that was the only maze that everytime I went through it at dark, it got me all twisted around, the maze designer actually got lost.” said Benjamin.
As many mazes can be designed to be figured out easily or just flat out frustrate guests, Best Maze tries to find the happy medium between the two.
To reward the participants while also testing them is where Benjamin has said his experience throughout the years has really helped the process.
“There’s a fine line between stumping people and making them so upset that they never come back,” said Benjamin. “I like to design it so they’re stumped for a while, then all of a sudden they feel like they’re making progress, everything is going good, then I slam them again.”
While Benjamin is the maze designer, he does not do this operation alone. Many of the workers have been at the maze for years, creating a family atmosphere that most places can’t recreate.
One of those workers is Jennifer DeGrandchamp who has been at Best Maze for six years. DeGrandchamp says its the customers old or new that gives the job so much excitement.
“They change the maze every year and so people will come out, they’ve been coming here for years and it’s still always different,” said DeGrandchamp. “We get new people and see the same people here and they all have fun with it,” said DeGrandchamp.
Not only does Best Maze run a family-friendly maze throughout the early fall, they also run a haunted trail called the Trail of Terrors. Guests can get their Halloween scares in as they go through different horror scenes throughout the experience.
Trent Southerland, who is in his fourth year working with the actors of the haunt, seeing the confidence build in the actors who are working at the Trail of Terrors for the first time.
“I love seeing new or very close to new haunt actors get their first scare and realize that they can do this, it’s so much fun,” said Southerland. “People are paying to get a good show, (scaring) isn’t something you can fully explain until you do it.”
The Best Maze Corn Maze and the Trail of Terrors are located at 3803 Noble Road in Williamston, Michigan. They are open every weekend until Oct. 31. Additional information as well as times and dates can be found on their website bestmaze.com and on their Facebook page.