MENOMONIE (WQOW) – When Julie and John Govin lost a family member to suicide six months ago, they realized their annual corn maze could help save a life.
Their corn maze at Govin’s Meats and Berries off I-94 west of Eau Claire is an annual tradition for lots of Chippewa Valley families.
Over the years, the maze has had designs of the Packers logo, even of Garth Brooks. But this year, there’s a much deeper message in the 11 acres of corn. The words “your life matters” and the number to the Suicide Prevention Hotline are mowed into the cornfield.
John Govin said that while the idea for the design was easy, actually going through with it was not. He was worried the message would be kind of a downer while people tried to celebrate the seasons changing.
“Fall is a fun time,” Govin said. “You’re really celebrating a harvest, you’re celebrating everything that was good all summer long. And then to choose to do something like this … is it gonna drive people to your farm, or is it gonna drive them away?”
After their personal experience, they decided it was worth the risk. “On the way to the family funeral, we both realized that this is just so much more than just trying to drive people to our farm.”
At one point during our interview, Govin’s voice shook. “Everybody is somebody’s most important person,” he said, choking back tears. “If we can make a difference, if we save a life this fall… that’s worth it.”
The maze also has a kids section featuring anti-bullying efforts alongside the main suicide prevention theme.
The maze officially opens September 21.