In addition to a livestock operation, the Fieth Family Farm also is an agritourism destination

When the late country music star, Chris LeDoux released his 1992 hit “Cadillac Ranch,” he struck a common chord that many a farm family has sought – another way to make the family farm add to the bottom line.

Vicky Fieth and her family in Polk County, just outside of Bolivar, Mo., have done exactly that for more than a dozen years with their Fieth Family Farm, which includes corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkins and various family activities.

“When my husband, William (Billy) Fieth, was alive, we raised registered Hampshire hogs, with 60 registered sows in a much bigger operation. He’s been gone seven years now and we still have about 20 registered sows. We also raise calves in the spring since my kids have taken over. Now, we also raise goats and rabbits and keep a miniature horse, all for the operation,” Vicky explained.

In 13 years, they have built 13 acres worth of corn mazes and offer another 8 acres of various activities for children and adults on their 180-acre farm.

“In the beginning, we tried the ‘scare factor’,” Vicky explained. “But it takes a lot to keep that up with live actors, and some of our visitors were concerned and wanted to know just how scary it was. We found we do better with our mini-maze designed for the little ones, our inflatables, our barrel train and our kids’ tent, which also has a ball pit and a corn box, similar to a sandbox. In other words, we cater to a family-friendly theme.”

Vicky, her son Branden and his wife Amie Fieth, along with daughter Velynda Fieth and her significant other Clayton Bishop, daughter Anita Sisco and Vicky’s grandson Kelby all work together over the short six-week season from mid-September until just after Halloween to open up their family farm to the public. Several of Vicky’s other grandchildren also help out when they can with various chores and activities, as do several of their friends and neighbors. She estimates that they entertain approximately 3,000 people during the fall season.

“We talk to the kids and families about agriculture and farming every chance we get,” Vicky shared. “We host school groups during the week and are open to the public on weekends. The kids get to see the hogs, the high tunnel and we talk about raising corn, pumpkins, gourds and other fall decorations, and also about feeding animals and farm life in general.”

The weather can also be a major factor in their work and planning each year.

“Last year, we had to contend with rain and even cancel a few times due to the mud,” Velynda added. “This summer started rainy but we have had good weather for our fall celebrations.”

“We always ask our visitors not to pick the corn,” Vicky laughed. “Otherwise, we won’t have enough to last through the fall season. We plant the long day corn and we plant it late in the season. It can make harvesting with the combine a little more difficult but we’ve learned over the years, it is the best way to have it tall and green long enough for all the mazes.”

Vicky has also worked for the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District for the past 30 years and is the office manager. She also knows about raising decorative fall crops. In the past, she and her family raised and sold 10,000 corn husk bundles a year, as well as Indian corn and pumpkins to various stores throughout Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas, including Wal-Mart.

“It was another way to supplement the farm income,” Vicky continued. “My husband was the peddler in all that. We quit, however, as we got into the family farm activities. That’s all we do now. It had always been my dream but it has grown really fast. We also provide areas for families, church and scout groups to come out and picnic or have a campfire any evening.

“We are ending up the 2019 season now but each year it gets bigger and we are already starting to plan for our 2020 season. While we are open to the public just in the fall, this is a year-round operation.”

Chris LeDoux would be proud.


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