It’s that time of year again — there’s a chill in the air, leaves in a blaze of colors can be seen falling from trees and pumpkins lie in farmers’ fields waiting to be turned into spooky, glowing masterpieces.
Joan Allsup and her husband, Max, of Mitchellville look forward to autumn each year because it means their farm once again can be turned into a Halloween haven, complete with two corn mazes, a straw jump, hayrack rides, a pumpkin patch and more.
Pumpkinville and Corn Maze, located at 618 Center Ave. S. in Mitchellville, has been a family-run farm for four generations. However, it was renovated into a fall tourist attraction in 1999, and has only gotten bigger since.
“It started slow. People kind of started asking us if we’d done field trips out here, and I’d considered it but we hadn’t yet,” Allsup said of the early beginnings of Pumpkinville, noting that she and her husband soon began allowing school children to tour their gardens full of strawberries and other produce. “Then, it just kind of evolved. The more we did, the more people wanted us to add different things.”
Now, the Allsups open their land to visitors looking for traditional fall decorations, such as pumpkins, squash and gourds. A hayrack ride is available throughout the weekends to take folks into the pumpkin patch, or tables with row upon row of already picked pumpkins are set up near the front of the facility for the less adventurous.
A plethora of additional family-friendly activities awaits visitors as well, including a herd of amicable goats and other farm animals, a straw jump for kids and kids at heart and campfires available for $10 per hour by reservation only.
But Joan thinks the real draw to Pumpkinville is the two corn mazes.
“I’d say it really started getting bigger when we started the mazes,” Joan said of the farm. “It gave people more to do when they came.”
The roughly one acre mini-maze is designed as a fun activity for children and elderly visitors. Joan said it takes perhaps 20 minutes from start to finish and has six hole-punch stations within for guests to find scavenger hunt-style and fill their ticket.
The big maze, however, is about 20 acres of labyrinthine entertainment.
“It’s one of the bigger ones in Iowa; a lot are 10 acres,” Allsup said. “We open that in July and it’s really dense and really full. The ticket has 20 different designs on it and they have to find the punch station. If you don’t get them all on your first try you can come back as long as you’ve got your ticket. If you complete it, you drop your name in our little treasure chest and we draw for (cash) prizes.”
Each year, the mazes are thoughtfully engineered into different shapes. Although some farmers use high-tech GPS equipment for harvesting and other farming purposes, Allsup keeps it old school.
“I know how big my field is and then I get out my graph paper and I start drawing. Then, I’ll go in with flags and flag it all and then start mowing,” she said of designing the mazes. “This year, it’s a train. Last year it was a castle, the year before was a brachiosaurus dinosaur and the year before that was a Viking ship.”
Pumpkinville typically is open through the end of October, but because of when Halloween events fall this year the pumpkin patch will stay open through the first weekend in November. There is no general admission. For more information, visit www.pumpkinvillecornmaze.com.
Amy Martens can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 426 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.