Have you been to a corn maze yet this fall? Or picked out a pumpkin at a pumpkin patch? There are four or five corn mazes scattered around the Treasure Valley, and they can be a lot of fun.
Today on “You Can Grow It,” garden master Jim Duthie tells us about a family-operated corn maze and pumpkin patch in a remote part of the Treasure Valley that’s very popular with the locals, and it sits right in the shadow of a famous Idaho geological feature.
There are a lot of fun Halloween activities this time of year all across the Treasure Valley from one end to the other, and I’m at one far end of the Treasure Valley, at Quey’s Maze and Pumpkin Patch near Mountain Home.
The Bruneau Sand Dunes in Owyhee County are the highest single-structured sand dunes in North America, standing about 470 feet high.
And just about a mile way, within view of the dunes, is Quey’s Maze, where the corn stands about eight feet high.
It’s a remote corner of the Treasure Valley, but there’s something special about Quey’s Maze and Pumpkin Patch, especially to the locals.
“Now, I don’t get people to come out of Boise. It’s mainly Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry, Grandview and Bruneau, but in ’07 we started the thing going and it’s worked,” said Quey Johns.
Folks from miles around visit the maze and pumpkin patch every year.
“I’m going to guess somewhere around three- to four-thousand maybe, because, again, the base of my draw comes out of Mountain Home, but I will get…we had a group that’s come out of Hailey, Sun Valley.”
Several years ago, Quey Johns, a local farmer, decided to plant a pumpkin patch for the school kids.
“Years ago I’d plant pumpkins and we’d have Head Start come down to pick a pumpkin.“
Then in 2006, Quey visited a Meridian corn maze, and after watching people wander through it, he decided to make one here himself.
“I’d just stand there and watch, and I came back and, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”
And since then it’s grown from a small pumpkin patch, to a full-size corn maze, along with lots of other fun activities, including a shallow grain pit for the kids to play in, as well as a hay bale climbing tower.
“There’s the big hay pile directly behind us.”
“I find…it’s only about 20-feet tall to the top of it, but the number of people that want to climb it. And kids, it seems to attract. They like it.”
Quey’s dog, Zeus, makes quick work of climbing to the top, along with Quey’s daughter, Bethany, who grew up helping to run the maze.
“And then, also, we have a hay ride.”
The hay wagon is pulled slowly by an antique tractor, although it’s also been pulled by a different kind of horsepower on occasion.
“And then a place to take pictures a little bit. It’s not really high tech, we’re kind of really laid back. You make your own fun when you come here.”
One thing you’ll notice right away is how quiet and peaceful it is in this remote setting.
“When you’re here, you’re safe. It’s nice and quiet most of the time, but you’re safe here.”
“I give people a bad time for even locking their cars.”
When children come on school field trips, Quey likes to teach them about farming, and where their food comes from.
“In our society now there’s a lot of kids that don’t have grandpa and grandma on 40 acres anymore, so they have no contact with where their food comes from.”
He’ll tell them about how the corn in the field, including the corn maze itself, will eventually be fed to cows. In fact, the design of the maze is a milk cow with the dairy slogan “Got Milk.”
“And so in our discussion with the kids we try to talk about milk, where it comes from.”
Quey’s children grew up helping to run the maze, and he says it taught them a lot about relating to people.
“They’re not scared of people, and they can communicate any place they go. It’s not something that I realized when I started this, but it’s been a real blessing for them and me too.”
Now that Quey’s children are grown, he’s thought about shutting down the corn maze, but the response and support from his neighbors keeps him going.
“When I started this, I had no idea how kind and gracious people would be with their thanks and their gratitude just for running the corn maze. I’ll have people here give me extra money when they leave, saying, ‘Hey, if you run it again, ya gotta run it again.’ I said, ‘Someday I’m going to die, you know… what are we going to do?’ And they say, ‘We don’t care. You come back and run the corn maze.’ I haven’t quite figured that one out yet, but I’m working on it, OK?”
“We have a really good crowd that comes here. You know, it’s humbling.”
“If you want a really laid back, easy experience, come down here.”
It may not be the biggest corn maze you’ve ever been to, or the biggest pumpkin patch, but make the trip out to Mountain Home, and I guarantee you’ll have an amazing time.
Quey’s Maze and Pumpkin Patch is about 20 miles south of Mountain Home, just east of the entrance to Bruneau Dunes State Park. It’s still open for a few more days. The public is welcome on Friday and Saturday, but it’s closed on Sunday. School groups and day cares can still visit on weekdays until Halloween. Admission prices range from two to seven dollars.