"Farmer's Daughters" Katie Shannon (left) and Kristi Goughan welcome people to the opening of the Goughan's Berry Farm corn maze, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Aroostook County Action Program. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican

CARIBOU, Maine — An Aroostook family farm’s corn maze is showing community spirit by honoring a social service agency’s 50th anniversary.

Aroostook County Action Program was founded in 1972, the same year that the Goughan family took over 350 acres of farmland in Caribou that people know today as Goughan’s Berry Farm.

An aerial view of a corn maze that reads "ACAP"
An aerial view of the new corn maze at Goughan’s Farm shows a tribute to services that Aroostook County Action Program offers. Credit: Courtesy of Steve Holmes

Over the years, the Goughan family has partnered with ACAP to promote nutrition and family well-being, and is using the maze to help visitors to learn about the organization’s services.

Corn mazes are a fall tradition for some farms. Each maze has a theme and unique design, and many offer games and activities within them meant to give families something to do together as part of the farm experience.

For 17 years, the corn maze has become the most anticipated fall activity at Goughan’s Farm. Some of the family’s most popular designs have included one of the University of Maine black bear mascot, a 60th birthday card to matriarch Gloria Goughan, a snowmobiling moose and a tribute to American veterans.

This year’s corn maze at the farm features a large number 50 in the center to honor ACAP’s anniversary and then stretches out into five images that represent its most known services.

At the top are silhouettes of parents and children, which harkens to ACAP’s “whole family” approach to helping people gain economic stability. Going clockwise around the maze are A, B, C building blocks for ACAP’s early care and education program, a home to represent the energy and housing program, outlines of three people in honor of workforce development and an apple to represent health and nutrition programming.

Goughan family members and ACAP officials unveiled the corn maze design Monday, along with the youngest members of ACAP’s education programs.

Katie Shannon, one of Gloria and Mark Goughan’s three daughters, said that her family designed each game in the maze to help people learn facts about ACAP’s services.

A group stands at the finish line of a corn maze.
“Farmer’s Daughters” Katie Shannon (second from right) and Kristi Goughan welcome people to the opening of the Goughan’s Farm corn maze, while Aroostook County Action Program CEO Jason Parent (far left) and ACAP Director of Advancement Sherry Locke look on. This year’s maze honors ACAP’s 50th anniversary. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican

“There were services that even we didn’t know about,” Shannon said. “If we were learning something, that means other people might learn about services that can help them or another family.”

This year’s design took “Farmer Mark” Goughan and daughters a total of 60 hours to cut out of a 6-acre plot of corn on the far western side of their property. Gloria Goughan painted the signs that guide visitors through the maze and explain game rules.

Since Mark and Gloria began farming with Mark’s parents — the late Donald and Sarah Goughan — in 1978, they have added many agri-tourism features, including a mini-golf course, berry picking fields, a farm animal exhibit and homemade ice cream shop.

The corn maze alone attracts around 3,500 to 4,000 visitors every year, Mark Goughan said.

“We want this to be a free asset for people to enjoy the outdoors together,” he said. “We’re all about family fun at the farm.”

Goughan’s Farm has long been a place that accepts Women, Infant and Children vouchers, which allow eligible mothers to purchase freshly grown fruits and vegetables at farm stands and markets. The family has also taken part in ACAP farmers’ markets at the agency’s Presque Isle location.

A group stands next to a sign announcing a corn maze.
Three-year-old Madeline Clark (left) and 6-year-old Genesis Lavoie help reveal the new corn maze at Goughan’s Farm with Madeline’s mother Kelsey Clark (standing, left), a kitchen aide at ACAP’s Head Start center in Caribou, and Kim Smith, a teacher aide at the Caribou Head Start. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican

The farm and agency’s focus on families made them natural collaborators on the corn maze, ACAP CEO Jason Parent said.

“[The maze] is a wonderful tribute to ACAP’s legacy and to Aroostook County’s agricultural traditions,” Parent said. “It’s an honor to partner with the Goughan family once again.”

The Goughan’s Berry Farm corn maze will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday until the end of October.