The race's runners squirm and snort at the starting line. Ham Bone, Miss Piggy, and Pork Chop may just be piglets, but in the course of one fall season at Dan-D Farms, they'll transform into world-class swine sprinters. Approximately every two hours, they'll storm down a 100-yard improvised raceway, complete with a water obstacle. That's right––a water obstacle. "Our pigs," farm owner Debra Kearney confirms, "can swim."
These riotous races are just one part of the lineup of events that overtakes Dan-D Farms each fall. Guests flock to this family-friendly affair to scramble over hay bales, feed wooly sheep, or test their sense of direction in one of two hay mazes. Each year for their maze, Debra and her family––including dad, Dan––devise a new design, but try to stick to things that are Iowa related. Past mazes have included the image of iconic Iowans such as native son John Wayne, and the ISU Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes mascots, as well as a reproduction of the American Gothic painting by Anamosa, Iowa–native Grant Wood. Each June, they begin marking the design into the 20-acre field, painting and flagging rows like boxes on grid paper, and then cut out the tunnels before the corn grows knee-high or develops the ability to cry. While this intricate, artistic design requires huge amounts of time and labor, less energy is spent carving out the separate haunted corn maze, where the fear-factor relies on simple twists and turns, instead of fancy effects or animatronics. "It's really not too hard," Debra says, "to scare people in a dark, dusty corn field."