A short jaunt down County Road 60 Southwest may result in a fright for unprepared Decatur County residents.
Just in time for Halloween, the "Haunted Woods" has returned, bringing with it a creepy menagerie of ghosts, goblins and bizarre creatures. The scary spectacle is an annual event planned and organized by Decatur County resident Doug Burton, as well as his friends and family. The Haunted Woods attracts children and adults of all ages each Halloween season. The trip involves a long walk through a wooded area filled with enough monsters to make Universal Studios jealous.
The event officially began Oct. 14, but those who missed the first weekend of ghoulish fun still have four more chances. The Haunted Woods will continue Friday Oct. 21, Saturday Oct. 22, Friday Oct. 28 and Saturday Oct. 29.
Aside from the spooky setting, the event achieves the majority of its scares when costume clad actors jump into the path of the unsuspecting guests. The walk is briefly interrupted by a hay ride that ferries guests deeper into the forest approximately halfway through the journey. Each trip through the Haunted Woods typically takes about 30 minutes, and those brave enough to face the maze of monsters typically come out smiling.
Cost of the event may bring happiness as well. Individual ticket prices for the Haunted Woods are $5 and children under age 10 are admitted at no charge. A family of five can visit the attraction together for $15. A group comprised of more than five members over the age of 10 would pay an additional $3 per person. Burton noted the price of this event is lower than similar "haunted houses," and that money earned through the Haunted Woods is used primarily to help pay the significant insurance costs associated with an attraction of this kind. Other funds earned through the event will go toward the purchase of new props and costumes for future shows.
The "Haunted Woods" is intended for individuals of all ages, though it is possible the event may frighten younger children. As a result, Burton and others involved with the production offer a "less intense" version of the trip to those who may request it. The more child friendly version doesn't take visitors deeper into the woods via a tractor ride. Children also wear flashing lights that will cue the "monsters" to tone down their performances.
The performers themselves consist of friends and family of Doug Burton. Saturday's event hosted approximately 60 children and adults out to give unsuspecting visitors a scare, one of whom was Burton himself. The event's primary organizer dresses as a chainsaw-wielding clown, much to the delight and possible horror of those who dare traipse through the Haunted Woods.
As is the case with other Halloween-themed attractions, the rules Haunted Woods guests must follow are clearly stated prior to a visitor's entry and are expected to be followed. One such rule is that visitors may not wear masks of any kind, due primarily to the fact they may obscure a visitor's vision leading to an accident. Running is also "frowned upon," as the potential for injury increases when frantic running mixes with darkness. Performers have been instructed not to chase guests, noted Burton.
Burton performs in the yearly show, which previously took place closer to Adams. He said the event has been a tradition for about seven years, and he indicated the group plans to continue the frightful fun in the years to come.
The Haunted Woods is "the most fun you can have without going to jail," states the group's Facebook page. The site also states the event is longer and more varied than in year's past, and that changes occur each weekend. A previous Haunted Woods exhibit drew 1,800 visitors over the course of a single weekend.
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