SHEFFIELD, Iowa -- If you're flying over this part of the country in a jetliner, look down and scan the land for the grinning face of Mickey Mouse.
It's there, all right, in the field of the farming Pitzenberger family -- 520 acres of corn and oats planted in the shape of Mickey's famous mug.
The Walt Disney company contracted with Walt Buehlje, who owns the land, and the Pitzenbergers, who farm it, to plant the mouse in celebration of his 60th anniversary.
The site lies below several major east-west and north-south airline routes and the grinning Mickey can be easily seen from 30,000 feet, said Disney spokeswoman Mimi Schaaf.
The farmfield has grabbed the attention of north-central Iowa and has helped distract from a dismal drought year that has withered half of the state's corn crop.
The Mickey field has received timely rains so 6.5 million lush green corn plants that make up Mickey's silhouette are surrounded by 250 acres of golden oat stubble.
'We were extremely fortunate,' Schaaf said. 'They've gotten rain there but if you go 30 minutes in either direction it's dry.'
The nearby town of Sheffield and neighboring farm communities of Chapin, Dougherty, Meservey, Rockwell, Swaledale and Thornton are holding a two-day celebration Aug. 6-7 to honor what Walt Disney people call 'Kernel Mickey.'
Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy will be on hand and a helicopter plans to take people aloft to see the mouse head. Disney's giant hot air ballon shaped like Mickey wearing a party hat dubbed 'Earforce One' will also hover over the celebration.
The project started last winter when Disney officials got the idea and approached Buehlje about it. He then approached his tenants, the Pitzenbergers about planting a mouse.
'I said, 'you've got to be kidding, we usually plant those in the trash can,' but you know this is the greatest thing that ever happened to us,' Richard Pitzenberger.
'It's been more work, but it's been fun,' said Ted Pitzenberger, who farms the land along with his father Richard and brothers Joe and Rick.
Disney first tested the feasibility of laying out the aerial greeting card by painting a giant pink X in the snow and then going aloft to see if it was visible. It was and now Disney chairman Michael Eisner claims the head was 'beautiful' when he flew over on an airliner at 39,000 feet, Schaaf said.
Surveyors laid out the pattern and the Pitzenbergers planted the two crops to within a quarter inch of the original plan, although the angle was so tricky around Mickey's grin that they resorted to some hand planting.
Disney made it worthwhile for the farmers, Pitzenberger said, although he will not reveal what they were paid. Disney did foot the bill for the two families, about 18 people, to visit Disney World.
The Pitzenbergers said planting oats in place of soybeans did cost them something since the drought has sent bean prices skyrocketing, but he said the attention showered on the area has been worth it.
'It's like bringing a little bit of Disney to the prairie. We don't see that very often out here and we're honored to be part of it,' Ted Pitzenberger said.
Officials claim the mouse head will be visible until the fall harvest.
But then Mickey will have a somewhat inglorious ending.
'We'll pick the corn and feed it to the hogs,' Ted Pitzenberger said.