Plenty of places in the local area for good fall, Halloween entertainment for all ages

The boys and ghouls of the Haunted Barn in Greenville are ready to their best to put some fright in your night. Located behind The Topper Shop on M-91, this year’s haunt is much expanded from previous years.

“From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us.

So goes the old Cornish prayer, uttered by children as they prepare for sleep on cold, October nights. But sometimes, ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties are exactly what we’re in the mood for.

When that mood hits, there are plenty of haunted houses and mazes nearby to sate our desire to be scared out of our wits.

Among the best bets this year is The Haunted Barn in Greenville, at 1471 S. Greenville Road, behind the Topper Shop. Visitors to this year’s Danish Festival Grand Dansk Parade were treated to a preview of The Haunted Barn’s offerings, but according to Topper Shop owner Tammy Hollinshead, that preview was just a small taste of what’s in store at this year’s Haunted Barn.

“We’ve added nine new areas this year,” Hollinshead said. “We now have over 30 areas; that’s not 30 characters, but 30 different sections, each one unique.”

Ironically, Hollingshead, who designed most of the tableaus, is not herself a fan of haunted houses.

“I just don’t like haunted attractions,” Hollingshead admitted. “I just went to my first haunted house with my eyes open last week. My sister said, ‘You designed everything,’ and I told her those are all the fears that are in my head.

“That’s why it’s an awesome attraction. It’s the little things that are so creepy, the things that affect your senses,” she added.

It may be her innate dislike of being frightened that prompted Hollinshead to incorporate various “scare levels” into her Haunted Barn, along with a “good witch” that escorts timid visitors through the attraction.

“As a rule, the darker it gets, the scarier it gets,” Hollinshead explained. “We start out pretty tame early in the evening when there are a lot of little kids coming through. All the kids leave by the time it’s getting dark. Then we all get our second wind and get our scare on.”

Even after dark, however, the Haunted Barn’s good witch is available to accompany  “‘fraidy cats.‘“ The good witch’s presence alerts staff  “ghoulies” to the presence of a someone who doesn’t wish to be overtly frightened.

For those in the middle, there’s also a “bad witch” escort who helps those through the maze who wish to be scared only a little.

“The good witch will lead you and hold your hand and when the characters see you’re being led they will just wave at you, not scare you. The bad witch does pretty much the same thing as the good witch,” Hollinshead said. “But she may play a trick or two on you.”

The corn maze at Klackle Orchards is extensive and can take several hours to navigate.

Another popular haunted attraction is Carlson’s Crypt, at 14056 6 Mile Road in Belding. Carlson’s Crypt features a “Haunted Trail“ and “Night Maize“ through a corn field. The trail through the “Creepy Woods” takes about 40 minutes to navigate and can be particularly scary. Also, its lightless, rural location offers some extraordinary views of the autumn sky at night.

The corn maze is not haunted and those partaking of the maze at night are advised to bring their own flashlights. The Haunted Trail is not recommended for kids younger than 10 without a parent or guardian’s consent.

Area orchards, such as Klackle Orchards in Greenville and Anderson and Girls in Stanton also offer their takes on corn mazes this fall.

According to John Ekholm, who describes his job at Klackle Orchards as “flunkie,” the corn maze there this year takes quite a while to navigate once you enter.

“It takes some folks a long time to figure their way out,” Ekholm said. “A lot of groups like to take the tour at night and we can accommodate that. We have a special spot set up for a big bonfire. We’ve had groups as large as 200 and as small as 20, but 50 is about the best size, I think. It’s a lot of fun and gets very busy on the weekends.”

Anderson and Girls, at 2985 N. Sheridan Road in Stanton, also offers a host of harvest-related activities through October, including Kid’s Town, camel rides, a tractor show, wagon rides and scarecrow-making sessions.

So, whether you’re looking for an evening of bone-chilling terror or simply a nice walk through a sunny-day cornfield, you’ll be able to find an activity to help you get the most of out the fall season.

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