WESTERLY — About 15 miles away from Taylor Swift’s Watch Hill mansion, the staff at Manfredi Farms has been hard at work building a tribute to their new celebrity neighbor.
Farm owner Richard Manfredi’s idea to carve its annual 8-acre corn maze into a welcome message for the singer came to fruition last week, when workers finished the pathways to read “Welcome Taylor” beside a picture of a guitar.
“I’m always thinking outside the box,” he said. “I don’t think like other farmers do. I just thought, if I was a celebrity, what would I want the most?”
Manfredi concluded that a friendly neighborhood welcome would be perfect given the farm’s location near the Westerly State Airport.
Since planes coming to and from the airport fly over their farm constantly, Swift could be sure to see her corn maze message when arriving at or departing from the airport.
He said he’s also a fan of Swift’s music, “because you can hear the words.”
“She doesn’t hide behind loud, blaring instrumental music and lights,” he said. “She’s an artist.”
Manfredi said Swift’s song “Ours” had a line that always stuck with him.
“She says, ‘People throw rocks at things that shine,’” he said. “I’ve found that to be very true.”
Manfredi’s son and business partner, Christian, also said he’s had a crush on Swift since the song “Teardrops on My Guitar,” from her debut album released in 2006.
“I could never pick a favorite song,” he said. “But maybe ‘Red,’ the song from the newest album.”
Richard said that the message embodied his philosophy of wanting to greet Swift as a newcomer to town without stalking or harassing her. Especially given Swift’s young age, he said, she should be left alone to enjoy her life.
The Manfredis used string to map out the letters, which are about 62½ feet long.
Without using a GPS, Richard said it was difficult to carve the letters without getting lost in the corn. His daughter suggested including a guitar in the message to fill the empty space next to the letters.
Manfredi Farms, which started around 1940, has had a corn maze as part of its annual fall events for more than 10 years, according to Richard. This is the first year, Christian said, that they haven’t made the path out of random lines and circles, but with an intended message.
However, Richard emphasized that despite the attention his maze has received, the farm will continue as a family-friendly environment without carnivals or other “gimmicks.”
The maze is more of a “walking maze” than a difficult puzzle, according to Richard.
Christian added that if you make all the right turns, the path could take as little as 5 minutes to complete, but too many misdirected steps could mean 30 to 60 minutes to reach the exit.
Richard said that while they didn’t create the maze expecting an appearance from Swift, “it would be nice” if the pop star paid a visit. “I just wanted to bring a smile to her face,” he said.
Manfredi Farms is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, and currently hosts the corn maze, hay rides, a petting zoo and “farmer’s golf,” which Manfredi said is a unique feature on the East Coast.