"What we like about the maze is that we can take you anywhere we want." - Donnie Beggs
SIKESTON -- After last year's "Wild West Adventure" in the Beggs Pumpkin Patch maze, owners Donnie and Shelia Beggs are hoping more maze questers will jump aboard the upcoming 12-acre pirate-themed maze.
"It's already set up," owner Donnie Beggs said. "The design's out there, but the corn hasn't been taken out yet. The paths are what makes the design."
Work is in progress on the life-size maze with a design that features a pirate ship sailing the high seas and a classic treasure chest with gold coins and jewels. A smaller maze in the shape of an anchor, sits at the bottom of main maze. About 360,000 living corn stalks comprise the maze.
"What we like about the maze is that we can take you anywhere we want," Beggs said.
Beggs worked with Maize Quest, a professional maze designer, to pick the theme for this year's maze, and he admits he doesn't want to give away the secret of how they actually construct the maze. He will only say there are several ways to remove the unwanted corn.
Educational opportunities are included in the maze so those who attend will learn a little more about farming and pirates, Beggs pointed out. For example, fact boards about the history pirates are located throughout the entire maze. Last year nearly 8,000 area school children visited the maze, he said.
"It's really good for children in the second grade and up because they can read the signs and clues. First grade can go through it, too, but they might need a little help reading."
Since the main maze is too complicated for the smaller children, Beggs had the idea to create an anchor-shaped maze at the bottom of the main maze, which is not as difficult to complete.
The maze is divided into two sections. The first section, which is used for school children, takes about 30 minutes to conquer. Other questers have the decision of whether or not they want to venture out into the rest of the maze after completing the first section.
The second section, about two-thirds of the maze, is a little more of challenge, Beggs admitted. "It's for the true maze quester," Beggs said. "It's for those who really have their mind set on finishing the entire maze."
The whole maze takes approximately an hour and a half to complete, Beggs estimated. The longest it took someone last year to complete was three and a half hours, he recalled.
"We have staff members inside the maze," Beggs said. "Every quester gets a flag, and if they get lost, they just raise the flag and someone will help them."
A new addition to the maze includes navigation clues pointing questers in the right direction, Beggs said. The maze is color-coded to let questers know if they're getting anywhere and helps them advance through the maze, he said.
Beggs first got the idea for the maze a couple years ago when his son was a Tiger Scouts member. Beggs held a bonfire and hayride for the scouts, and it was such a hit, they decided to open the pumpkin patch to the public.
"After the first year, I asked my son what we could do to make it better. He said, 'Add a maze.' So that's what we did," Beggs said.
Beggs decided if he was going to build a maze, he was going to do it right so he contacted Maize Quest.
The farm also includes a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, hayrides, a small petting zoo of farm animals, a gift shop, as well as education on farming for groups of school children and the public. New attractions include a big slide, a puppet show and an enchanted maze for smaller children, Beggs said. Visitors will also be able to view the maze from a 10-foot observation tower, he added.
"I like to call it agri-tainment," Beggs said. "You get to learn, but have fun at the same time."
"A Pirate's Adventure" officially opens Saturday, Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. It will continue each weekend after until Oct. 27. Hours of operation are 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. School districts may attend by appointment during the week.
Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12. Groups of 20 or more must preschedule and will receive a discount.
Some may think Beggs' maze is a passing event, but he doesn't think so. "In five years, I don't want people asking me if we're going to be open," he explained. "I want them to ask me what the new theme's going to be."