Corn in the U.S.A.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I have to be honest -- I have never felt very comfortable on farms.†

I don't know if it's the overall smell that I find offensive or the unshakable fear that at any moment I might be put to work, never to leave again. At any rate, in exchange for money, I spent the last day of September at Begg's Family Farm just outside of Blodgett ... or Sikeston. Was it past Benton?† †

Just as I arrived at the admissions gate and flashed my press pass, a stampede of human males, women and children burst out of the giant door of a metal barn that was on my left. These were your radio and TV contest winners, ladies and gentlemen - the best of the best; the undisputed few, masters of speed-dialing radio and TV stations with the hopes of winning some prize.

Of course, not everyone there was in competition. Some families brought their children to simply enjoy the animals and whatnot.

I would catch up to the teams a little later because it was time for the pig race; yes, just like horses and greyhounds. But who wants to "just watch" racing pigs? The real excitement is in betting on them. I asked the guy behind the window which one had the best odds. He slides me the paper, and I kid you not, these were their names: Faith Squeal, LeeAnn Pork Rinds, Jean-Claude Van Hamme and Kevin Bacon.†

I found myself putting down $50 on Kevin Bacon ... and lost.†

Depressed and broke, I wandered aimlessly around the Farm. To boost my spirits I ran some kid off of what I wanted to play on, a horsey made out of a 55-gallon drum. It's too bad photographer Fred Lynch peeled-out because he could've gotten a picture of me roping a plastic steer on my third try.

It was about 12:30 in the afternoon and, frankly, I was ready to get out of there, especially after a llama spit at me for no reason at all. But before I left, I had to get lost in the corn maze, "Escape the Wrath of T-Rex", so named because from the air, one can see that the maze is in the shape of a tyrannosaurus rex. Before entering the maze, an attendant gave me an orange flag attached to a long plastic stick. If I were to get lost, I would wave the flag and someone would rescue me. I entered the thing and in no time was completely lost. I walked, and walked, and walked, all of it looking the same, none of it making any sense, making even less sense the more I retraced my steps. I knew it was just a matter of time before Issac and the Children of the Corn came for me.

By this time my overactive imagination was laying the smackdown on me and I started waving the orange flag. And waved it ... and waved it. I even managed a whimpering "hey," but it went unheard. Deeper into the maze I went. I lost my way and now I was losing my grip. If they had to AirEvac me out of a corn maze due to a panic attack, I would die of embarrassment.

I walked a little farther and around a corner I saw what looked like the beak of, yes, a rather large chicken ... with a jockey. Oh, I had lost it now, hadn't I? At that moment a paper jumpsuit and a padded room didn't sound so bad -- I just wanted out of there. Thankfully, though, I wasn't crazy. It was, in fact, a woman wearing one of those costumes that gives the appearance of someone riding something, in this case, a chicken.

Why was there someone in a chicken-riding costume by themselves in the middle of a corn maze? Probably for the priceless reaction of some unsuspecting mark like me. I didn't care. After we exchanged some small talk about chicken-riding costumes, the woman gladly led me out of the maze. I made a bee-line for my truck (which was only appropriate since now I was being chased by a swarm of sweat bees) and I took off.

But, hey, I'm just some dude who's never been comfortable in the country. This doesn't mean you and your family won't have a great time at Begg's Family Farm. In fact, it's perfectly kid friendly in every way.† They can run around, fall down all day long and they'll love it. Just go to Blodgett, come to the stop where the post office is and follow the signs ... open every weekend through October.

Sorry, thought I was writing a commercial.

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