Slime on, slime on harvest moon
Over the river and through dismal bogs rimming Grafton, this is one of the few remaining roads designated as “rustic,” which you might as well know, prohibits anything as sensible as a yellow line down the middle. Danger lurks ‘round every bend as we head into West Bend, then south to the family farm known as Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm & Market. Almost 50 varieties of the orange things are nurtured on the impressive land owned by Rick Takacs. Plus, 2970 Mileview Road has a glorious view, and on this October Saturday afternoon, it seems that most of Wisconsin is viewing it.
“Park Here” says a hand-scrawled sign pointing the way to the land of SUVs and manly mud-spattered trucks.
In October, you needn’t be a rocket scientist to hawk a heap of pumpkins, but we were out and about specifically to soak up the horrors in the six acres of cornfield creepily arranged on a snaking, 36 inch-wide trail carpeted with hay. Enter Here All Ye Who Dare, which I dared with two boys, ages 7 and 9. But as we entered, a terrified three-year-old refused to walk the walk. For little kids, may I suggest something less heart-stopping? A wagon ride to the pumpkin patch might work (the wagon is pulled by a vintage red Massey-Ferguson tractor), or if not that, then another nearby patch waits for families who load up a little red wagon and get on with their day. Whatever it takes, this place has it. Spend not much, or quite a bunch.
Frankly, this was my first visit ever to a haunted cornfield, though there are fields aplenty to suck one in. How would I rate Meadowbrook on a 1-to-10 Scream Scale? Well, I’d be hard-pressed to grade it as anything other than a solid ten tons of fun. Plus, the Porta-Potties are spotless (Amazing, I’d say, considering the crowds moving in and out of the plastic one-holers.) Staff abounds to keep the grounds spic and span, but not too sanitized.
Homegrown counts in my book and most of the blood and gore seemed to ooze from hand-built scenarios. I chatted briefly with a talented chap who lives and works on the acreage. He’s self taught, and figured out many of the morbid masterpieces, some as fine as The Scream, an artwork produced by mad man, Edvard Munch. Obviously, a few fiends in the field of screamin’ meanies are ordered from specialty companies, but there is enough of the wildly creative to lend the right touch. Speaking of which, moving parts abound: hands grope, jaws chew slime and moldering bodies rise, all carefully choreographed to an astounding array of grunts, groans, moans, shrieks, drum beats, bells from hell, rattling chains and ghastly pleas chorused to the rustle of dried corn blowin’ in the October wind. I found myself lusting for their Friday and Saturday “night” version, which comes forth from dusk to midnight. Allegedly, there was no shortage of applicants for the $8-per-hour gig. Alas, poor Yorick, it’s not Hamlet, but use your imagination.
Now you have the guts of my tale. It’s your job to excavate the farm’s website, for specifics. Did I mention that Mr. Takacs shelters all manner of screeching fowl, including the majestic Emu. They are raised, yes, from eggs hatched on his farm, not far from where the Milwaukee River bends southward toward Milwaukee town. Don’t expect to buy any meat of Emu, breast of pea hen or strutting turkey tenders. “They’re my pets,” said Takacs, who directed me to the petting zoo, then to the stand selling treats intended to be washed down with hot cider and chocolate.
Avoid the expressway. Why speed by fall, when a blaze of Crayola colors beckons on the back roads and where there’s road kill to entertain the kiddies? My personal fave in the haunted cornfield? The winner is … the hilarious meat market featuring arms, legs, eyeballs and assorted body parts, fresh to you from the Land of Ghoul. It’s not Usingers, but there is something about it that suggests rows of sausages and liverwurst Homo sapiens style. Move over, Chucky. Take a hike, Freddy. You’ve been upstaged.
Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm & Market
Through Oct. 31
2970 Mileview Rd.