Staggs, along with 90 other schoolmates from Lee Hunter Elementary in Sikeston, were experiencing an adventure at the patch Wednesday. Their morning started off a little cool with their first stop at the puppet show, but things quickly warmed up as they were off to get their pumpkins.
During the wagon ride to the pumpkin patch, where the students were able to pick any pumpkin they wanted ranging from really small to very large -- teacher Christy Priday reflected on the fact that not too many of her students have ever set foot on a farm.
"Some of the kids have never even been to a farm before," Priday said. "Today, the kids are getting to see the farm, especially the things like the pumpkins growing in the field and the corn stalks."
Priday was interrupted when a small voice innocently chimed in: "I've been on a farm. I live at Mini Farms," the child said.
Priday chuckled and explained to the student the difference between the two farms.
"These are not farm kids. Even though they live in rural America, they're town kids," Priday explained. "I'm glad they're getting a chance to feed the animals and play in the hay."
Beggs Pumpkin Patch officially opened Sept. 27. Owners Donnie and Sheila Beggs receive so great a response from schools in the region, throughout the week, their patch is open for only schools.
Sheila Beggs noted bookings are higher this year compared to the same time period last year. The patch is open for schools Tuesday through Friday with Mondays set aside for rain outs. Fridays are always a busy time and this year, Thursdays are, too, she said.
Beggs Pumpkin Patch features a maze made of 10,000 feet of pathways cut through living cornstalks. This year's maze, "The Lewis and Clark Expedition Adventure" features the design of the explorers themselves as they navigate the mighty Missouri River. Visitors to the maze created by Maize Quest, a Pennsylvania-based company, enter a command center to hear a briefing on the expedition and to obtain a game sheet with the storyline. As they play the game, questers follow the helpful suggestions provided, answer the questions and create their own map on a game sheet to navigate the twists and turns of the maze.
"It was so much fun," Priday said about conquering the maze. "We were in there for two hours, but it was really fun and challenging."
Priday said to get through the maze she and her students had to find nine clues and answer questions along the way. The adventure was good for map reading skills, too, she said. Fourth grade teacher Debbie Bard said Lewis and Clark goes right along with the Missouri history fourth graders will learn this year.
"Fourth graders learn about Missouri history and explorers," Bard said. "We've talked about some explorers but haven't gotten into Lewis and Clark much. It'll probably be after the first of the year before we actually study them."
Once back in the classrooms, the teachers plan to make use of their day-long adventure.
"With the pumpkins, we'll measure the diameter and we'll see which ones will sink or float," said Bard.
Priday said she, too, plans to incorporate the fun-filled day with some learning.
"We're going to talk about all of the natural resources used here, like the recycled old tires," Priday said.
Having fun and learning is what the Beggs Pumpkin Patch and maze are all about, Beggs said. And if anyone hasn't visited the corn maze before, they're in for a real treat this year. "This is the best the corn has looked," Beggs said. "The corn is green, tall and thick so it's tough to see through the stalks. It's a real challenge and very easy to get lost along the way."
Visitors can also take a hay ride, view the Bee Barn, Chicken Coop, Cow Barn, petting zoo; or play in one of several areas like the hay bale jump.
New to the farm area this year is an old irrigation system that has been constructed into a swing set and a 15-foot slide made of a culvert. There are also additional smaller mazes at the farm.
School field trips are available by reservation only from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday Oct. 1 to Oct. 31.
Beggs Pumpkin Patch is open to the general public on weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children ages 3 to 12 for the entire farm area and hayride to the pumpkin patch. Those wanting to visit the entire farm area and participate in the hayride and the maze, admission is $8 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12.