By Rachael Gray
The Garden City Telegram
HUGOTON — Armed with laminated maps and bright orange and yellow vests that grazed some of their knees, the "corn cops" at the Meile Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maize set out into the mazes last Saturday to see if anyone needed help.
The group of Ulysses 4-Her's stayed close to one another, quizzing each other on the twists and turns of the giant corn maze on the Hugoton farm.
"If there's a person lost, we have to go into the corn maze, and they have two options: We can tell them where to go, or we can lead them out of there," said 9-year-old Areena Johnson.
To get familiar with the mazes, the youngsters went out earlier this month with some teenagers to learn the patterns of the mazes and how to get out the quickest.
"They showed where we needed to go, and we practiced a lot," said 11-year-old Dallie Johnson.
The "corn cops" are just one feature of the Meile Farms fall attraction site.
The site is the brainchild of Nate Meile, who had been wanting to create a corn maze for years, as well as a fun place where people can take their families.
The farm also features pumpkin picking, pumpkin launching, covered wagon riding, a petting zoo, a puppet show, a sweet corn concession stand with different flavors and toppings, and a corn pit where visitors can dig for money.
"It's 'agritainment,'" Meile said.
Meile, a farmer who had moved back to the area from eastern Kansas, decided this was the year to do it.
He decided to have the proceeds of the project be donated to the Ulysses Clover Leaf 4-H Club and the Hugoton High School FFA club.
DEKALB is a design within the maze and is a sponsor of the farm.
"The profits are being donated to the FFA and 4-H clubs, so we tried to get as much sponsorship as we could," he said.
Meile said the map of the maze is an accurate representation of what the maze looks likes. He's seen it from an airplane. The DEKALB letters and tractor are very clear, he said.
A company out of Utah cut the maze, Nate said.
A major attraction at the farm is the pumpkin launcher, which is made from an old propane tank and sends pumpkins flying way off into the distance.
Meile's nephew, Jacob Teeter, mans the launcher.
Meile said it's a family operation, but is run mostly by the 4-Her's and FFA volunteers.
JoAnna Rodriguez, club leader of the Clover Leafs, manned the pay window last Saturday.
She said it took people about an hour to get through the large corn maze.
"And we've had to send in some corn cops to go after a few people," she said.
Rodriguez said the 4-Her's have been enjoying volunteering and helping with the fall attractions.
"This is the first year they've done this. It was always Nate's dream. And it's great," she said.
Shortly before noon last Saturday, best friends Jaxon Teeter and Kobe Lindstrom, both of Hugoton, emerged from the large corn maze.
They used a map to follow along and took several different routes.
"We went the long way, and the hard way, where no one else was," Teeter said.
Lindstrom said there are many choices once you get inside the maze.
"You just have to make your mind up and pick a direction," he said.
Kobe also had another trick in case they got lost.
"You can always follow the irrigation ditches out. They have sprinkler trails," he said.
Meile said he enjoys observing what's going on at the farm.
"It's just neat to watch all the families have a good time and enjoy something in southwest Kansas... Something that's fun for the whole family and that the kids enjoy. The young kids come up here and have a ball. Hopefully, it's something that they'll cherish for a lifetime," he said.
This is the last weekend the farm will be open. The farm is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 12:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday.