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Liberty Ridge corn maze lets people 'vote with their feet'

As the 2008 presidential election nears, learning about the candidates can feel a little like navigating a giant maze. Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke has taken that concept a step further, giving area families an opportunity to vote with their feet by walking through the farm's trademark corn maze in order to learn about the role of the presidency and the electoral process. The theme is all a part of Liberty Ridge Farm's 2008 Fall Festival, which begins Sept. 12 and runs through Nov. 2.

The election theme, which is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of New York State and Rensselaer County, was conceived as a way for children to learn more about the upcoming election.

"This is a historical election coming up, and we have a lot of school children who come here for field trips," said owner Cynthia Gifford. "We wanted to expose them to the voting process."

Before entering the maze, families will pick up an "election '08 passport," which has 10 questions corresponding with numbered signs within the maze. When a signpost is reached, the correctly answered question will yield the right direction. At the conclusion of the trek, children and their families will be able to vote in Liberty Ridge's own personal election for either the Republican or Democratic party, with votes being tallied and updated each week. Also, Uncle Sam, the Republican Elephant and the Democratic Donkey will make appearances.

Liberty Ridge Farm, founded by Gifford and her husband, Bob, opened in 2000. Although the farm is functional and offers many different crops, today it is primarily a "natural" theme park, offering attractions for the entire family.

The farm's crown jewel is its 12-acre corn maze, the first and largest in the Capital District. Approximately 40,000 people a year visit the maze. Liberty Ridge also bills itself as a "whole family farm adventure," offering animal feeding areas, pedal kart racing, tire rolling and trolley rides. There's also Li'l Farmersville, where children 6 and younger can enjoy safe play, and the animatronic Hill Billy Band that plays bluegrass music.

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