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Monday, Sep. 22, 2014

For the Beggs, it's a harvest of fall farm fun

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

(Photo)
Donnie Beggs of Beggs Family Farm stands in front of the gemstone mining sluice which is part of the Miner Max Maze.
SIKESTON -- As the Beggs Family Farm officially opens its fall harvest festival Saturday, owners Donnie and Sheila Beggs promise yet another challenging giant cornfield maze and new entertainment for all ages.

"It's just a good time. We're making it for the family atmosphere for young and old alike," Donnie Beggs assured. Added to this year's family farm fun is the Barnyard Moonlight Golf, a 9-hole, glow-in-the-dark, farm-themed miniature golf game set up inside a dark barn, and the Miner Max, a construction-themed maze with a gemstone mining sluice, which is a passage for running water.

Miner Max maze consists of an open air maze over and around a variety of oversize obstacles that make maze questers have to work for their way out.

"We've got tunnels that serve as twists to the maze, and they have to go down a slide and work their way to the bridge in order to get out," Beggs explained.

Beggs constructed the maze use 6-foot fencing and along the way those conquering the maze will learn about modern mineral and gem mining through storyboards set up inside, Beggs said.

"It is meant to be challenging," Beggs said.

At the end of the maze visitors explore the "mysterious" building called Shaft 13 to find out why no one will work there, Beggs pointed out. When finished, they can try their luck at the sluice and "pan" for gemstones.

In addition to the miniature golf and Miner Max, "Lost in Space" is the theme for this year's 12-acre cornfield maze, which consists of 360,000 living cornstalks.

Although the stalks aren't as thick and tall as Beggs would've liked them, he said the maze is definitely a challenge.

Guests have the opportunity to explore over 10,000 feet of pathways cut into shape of a space walking astronaut and a shuttle floating above the earth.

To begin, visitors enter a command center, where they hear a briefing on the expedition and are given a game sheet with the storyline. As they play the game, questers will follow the suggestions provided, answer questions and create their own map on the game sheet to navigate through the maze and find their way out.

For the past, four years the Beggs have hired a designer to create their ideas for mazes such as the "Lost in Space" and "Miner Max" mazes. Then they implement the ideas. "Families can easily spend five or six hours here," Beggs said.

There's also the Fort of Fun play area which is literally a wooden fort complete with tunnels and bridges for children to play. Outside the Fort of Fun is a 17-foot slide. Across the farm is a chicken coop, a puppet show featuring farm animals and other play areas.

Keeping with tradition, pumpkin rides are available for children and adults to ride into the pumpkin patch and pick a pumpkin. Concessions and a gift shop are also on-site for visitors.

"For those who've never been here before, we're hoping everybody who leaves here will have had a good time," said Beggs. "And if you've seen us before, we're continuing to build, add and prepare a better day at the farm."

Each week day many schools visit the farm, and on the weekends, the farm is open to the public. Beggs said people have traveled as far as Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas and even California to visit the farm.

Beggs recalled a man who visited last year who was taking a year-long trip across the United States with his family.

"He pulled his kids out of school and everything. They were in St. Louis visiting relatives and every morning they would get up and search the Internet for places to go. They found Lambert's Cafe and then us," Beggs explained.

The Beggs will continue to add to the family farm adventure in the future. A spring festival is planned for April and a strawberry festival in May. Birthday parties can be held at the farm from March through September during the second weekend of the month.

And Beggs is already thinking about next year's cornfield maze.

"It will be the most challenging," Beggs promised with a smile. "It's 'Alcatraz: No one escapes the rock.' It's going to be the biggest challenge of them all."

Beggs Family Farm is open weekends Oct. 2-31, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit www.beggsfamilyfarm.com or call (573) 471-3879.