MURTAUGH — Jose Simental knows how to slingshot an ear of corn right smack into the middle of a target.
“I just close my left eye and aim kinda at the side of the target,” said Jose, a fourth-grader at Murtaugh Elementary School, as he demonstrated his technique.
Jose and a hundred other students in Murtaugh’s After School program visited the Magic Valley Corn Maze on Tuesday.
The corn maze is meant to be scary at night, but that afternoon, it was nothing but fun.
Shyloh Perkins and Adriana Ramirez played a game of checkers on an electrical spool with purple and orange squares.
“So far, it’s a tie,” Shyloh said, pointing to deadlocked baby pumpkin checker pieces. “Well, we’re actually stuck.”
Tylee Young and Teague Gunnell played a game of Jenga made from short two-by-fours. In a “sandbox” framed by straw bales and filled with corn kernels, little Wyatt Hepworth and his friends scooped kernels into toy dump trucks and emptied them into miniature silos.
Older students fired ears of corn from an air cannon.
Children disappeared into the large corn maze called “Field of Screams” and re-emerged a half-hour later.
Murtaugh siblings Colleen Wilkins and Travis Stastny, with spouses, Kip Wilkins and Carol Stastny, have operated the corn maze for several years. The four own Hollyberry Nursery between Murtaugh and Hansen.
“Kip wanted to do this,” Colleen said. “He wanted to see kids laugh.”
Mission accomplished. The maze receives visitors from schools across the valley, and families from as far as Elko, she said.
The corn maze is a complicated pattern cut using GPS for precision. It spells out the Stotz Equipment logo if seen from above.
Visitors wander through the cornfield, through a spooky bus, a spider tunnel and into the nursery’s “forest” of spruce and pines for extra thrills.
“It’s really scary when it becomes haunted,” Colleen said. The maze becomes haunted on Saturdays after dark.
Most folks can usually get through the maze in 45 minutes, but others take twice as long. One family got lost and had to exit through the entrance, she said.
Ten-year-old Brianna Cabral is looking forward to Halloween.
“I’m going to dress up like a skeleton or a Greek goddess,” she said.
Eight-year-old Kayle Gomez loves the maze.
“My favorite part is all the decorations and the creepy stuff.”