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The Daily Wildcat


Pick pumpkins, get spooked at Buckelew Farm

Steven Spooner

Don Carlini, an employee at Buckelew Farm, walks around his trailer on Oct. 17. This fall marks the 28th annual Buckelew Farm Pumpkin Festival and Corn Maze.

The Buckelew Farm was purchased by Bob Buckelew in Three Points, Arizona, in 1956. Bob’s only son, Nick, moved to the farm in 1977 with his wife Laurie.

The family grew mainly cotton and wheat until Nick grew his first pumpkin crop in 1989, thus commencing the annual Buckelew Farm Pumpkin Festival.

Visitors would take a horse-drawn wagon into the field to pick pumpkins.

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Nick and Laurie had two children, Clint and Amy, who took over management positions in 2001 when the family opened a corn maze attraction. The the “haunted” corn field, Terror in the Corn, began in 2004.

“The pricing kind of dictated how we came up with ideas,” Clint Buckelew said. “For example, when the cotton was a bad price, we had to think of other ways to make money to support the farm.”

Buckelew studied business and agricultural economics at the UA and is one of many UA alumni in the Buckelew family. He said that agricultural entertainment, which began in the last 20 years, has provided the farm with innovative and fun ways to make more money.

“Ag-entertainment is a big thing now,” Buckelew said. “We’re kind of focused on that.”

The Festival has grown over time through Buckelew family generations and additions to the farm.

“It went from a couple hundred people for the year up to now thousands of people a day,” Buckelew said. “So it’s grown quite a bit.”

Buckelew said they have about 15-20 thousand attendees for Terror in the Corn each year.

Laine Childs, a volunteer at the Festival each year, said the biggest difference each year is the amount of people who realize the farm is there and come out to see it.

“We’re members of the community and we’ve known the family and been involved with it since the beginning, so it just brings us back to see people every year that we haven’t seen for a year,” Childs said.

Buckelew said he enjoys the challenges of working in agricultural entertainment.

“It’s something new every day,” Buckelew said. “Every day you wake up to a new challenge, a new idea, something to build—you’re out working with your hands. You get to work from an idea or concept that we may have had five to 10 years ago. To actually see it come to fruition is kind of a neat thing. And then the flip side is actually people coming out and loving that idea.”

Cheyenne Disinger, a patron at Buckelew Farm, came to the festival this year with her husband to show him around.

“I’m excited about the Terror in the Corn … because I haven’t been in like seven years,” Disinger said.

Disinger and her husband enjoy scary attractions, and she said that Terror in the Corn was pretty frightening.

“[It was] really scary—I almost didn’t make it all the way through,” she said.

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Buckelew recently added a new alien ship scene to Terror in the Corn this year and was excited to finally complete the project.

“We have 28 scenes in the haunted [corn field],” Buckelew said. “But to actually see that come to life is kind of a cool thing. And then to watch at the end of the night everyone coming out talking about ‘awh that was a really cool scene’—it’s a really rewarding part.”

At the 28th Annual Buckelew Farm Pumpkin Festival and Corn Maze, patrons can take a wagon ride to pick pumpkins out of a patch, listen to live music, ride a zipline, eat festival food, hang out in the beer garden, shoot live zombies with paintball guns, explore the corn maze and, once the sun sets, maneuver the elaborate Terror in the Corn.

There are now up to 30 different varieties of pumpkins grown at Buckelew Farms.

“Every year people come out, they’ll see a pink pumpkin or a blue pumpkin that they’ve never seen before, so that’s kind of a unique thing,” Buckelew said. “So every year we just try to rework things, kind of make it new.”

Buckelew said he enjoys seeing his childhood friends take their own children to his family farm.

“Back when I was a kid 28 years ago, a lot of my friends used to come out with the school field trips and used to come to the farm when they were 5-10 years old,” Buckelew said. “Now they’re bringing their kids that are 5-10 years old, which is kind of a nice tradition that no one else has.”

The 28th Annual Buckelew Farm Pumpkin Festival and Corn Maze is open Saturdays and Sundays through the rest of October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pumpkin picking ends at 5 p.m. specific activities.

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