For Jim and Hillary Lowe, this year's race for the White House is ... wait for it ... corny. Their interest in all things presidential is particularly noteworthy to low-flying aircraft buzzing over their Meridian cornfield at the corner of Eagle and Overland roads.
"It's the hot topic," said Jim Lowe. "It's all over the place so we thought we'd do a little different take."
In 16 seasons, the Lowe's Farmstead Festival corn maze has taken a lot of different shapes, including the Boise State Broncos' logo and a bumblebee, a trout and Abraham Lincoln. The current occupant of the White House, President Barack Obama, is featured in this year's maze alongside challenger Mitt Romney, covering nearly 20 acres of corn.[ Video is no longer available. ]
"I've got 260 rows and they're 2-and-a-half feet apiece. Maybe 800 feet or so from bottom to top, in total; something like that," said Lowe. "Mazes and politics are all about left and right. It's all about choices."
As for which is the best strategy, left of right, Lowe shrugged.
"That's up to you. Some people say always go left, some people always go right. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
"Vote With Your Feet" is etched into the corn field as part of the maze.
"There's actually two different mazes. Phase No. 1 just goes up through Obama on the left side, and Phase No. 2 goes up through Romney."
The two portraits were sketched out online, creating a blueprint scaled to the size of the corn field. Then Lowe and his crew took to the corn, painting Obama and Romney's faces onto the ground.
"We just start measuring and counting and walking in circles," said Lowe. "Hopefully it looks right when it's done."
After visitors navigate the maze, staff will hand them a pumpkin to be placed in one of two large baskets, one for Obama, the other for Romney. Lowe called the unofficial study his "pumpkin poll."
"We thought we'd take our own little twist on a straw poll," he said. "We have a lot of straw out there but pumpkins are our thing."
The Lowe farm will stack the candidates' pumpkins in two towers near Interstate 84.
"People driving by on the freeway through the season can see the pumpkin levels in the two different towers," he said. "We've also made it available online at pumpkinpoll.com."
While Lowe said he voted in the Republican caucus, his family's corn maze isn't designed to take a side.
"People are passionate about politics," said Lowe. "That's a good thing. But a lot of our conversation isn't really face to face; rather it's on message boards and blogs and whatnot. And sometimes we get a little coarse in the way that we interact. I think it's good for people to be passionate.
But we don't want to be too serious out here. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican or something else altogether, we all like to have a good time. We like to come out with our family to improve our quality of life. That's what this is all about. The politics, it can be kind of crazy, but it can be kind of fun, too."