Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Beggs Family Farm Looks to the Next Generation of Farmers

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
The farm has hit a lot of highs lately: coming to the end of its 20th year, celebrating its parent company’s anniversary and hitting a one-day record of 4,200 attendees. The Beggs' family says they try and add a new attraction each year.
Photo by Clayton Hester

Slides, escape rooms, pig race tracks and more make up the setting of Beggs Family Farm in Blodgett, Missouri.

The farm has hit a lot of highs lately: coming to the end of its 20th year, celebrating its parent company’s anniversary and hitting a one-day record of 4,200 attendees.

Two members of the next generation of Beggs farmers study at Southeast: environmental science major Shelby Beggs and graduate mental health counseling student Taylor Beggs.

Their mother is Sheila Beggs, the co-owner and administrator of the operation.

“The first year, it started very small. Just a little red barn, a few animals and a pumpkin patch,” she said. “We’ve grown every year since then.”

Twenty years ago, the creation of Beggs Family Farm was sparked by a need to bring in more income to support farm operations, Sheila said.

The family adds new attractions each year, Sheila said, with the expansions covering gift shops and concessions.

Each year, the family farm is open from the end of September through Halloween.

They also attract school field trips, with 12,000 school kids taking field trips to the farm during the month.

The separate family farm operation grew out of the Beggs Melon Company -- founded in the 1890s — which produces an average of 150-200 acres of watermelons each year.

They have “dedicated workers” who keep the farm running during this season of pumpkins, corn mazes and a zoo area. The hired hands aren’t the only thing that makes this possible though, Sheila said.

Taylor said he was six or seven years old the first time the family grew pumpkins, and the process evolved from there.

“Slowly but surely we’ve grown to what we are today,” Taylor said. “From where we started, it’s pretty amazing how much it’s grown and how many people, when they learn that I am ‘one of those Beggs’, [their reaction is] ‘I love coming out to your farm.’”

In October, he said he’s a student full-time during the week, but on weekends, he has to go work on the farm.

“It kind of cuts into my studying a little bit, but you gotta make due to help out the family and still get your classes in,” he said.

Taylor said he doesn’t see his future in the fields of agriculture or business, so he does not believe he will be taking over or maintaining the future of the farm.

Shelby manages a concession shop of her own on the farm.

As for her involvement on the farm, Shelby said she "kind of gets placed wherever she's needed."

She said helping out with the farm can be overwhelming, and as for her future on the farm, Shelby said she has a “joking... love-hate” relationship with her role in the operation

Will she go on to lead the operation?

“I kind of like doing what my mom does, and kind of overseeing, but I still have lots to learn,” Shelby said. “It takes some dedicated family to do this.”

Though the farm closed on Halloween, it will open up again at the end of next September.

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