Attention, Halloween fans! Looking for something beyond Trick or Treat? Wayne County, Indiana, has you covered! Throughout October, family friendly events around (or very near) the county will give you a chance to get in the spooky spirit.
Every Friday and Saturday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m., Hayes Arboretum in Richmond will be populated with cackling creatures. Listen to their stories and find their hiding places through the Witch in the Woods Auto Tour. All you’ll need is a vehicle with a working CD player and a carload of excitement seekers. Arboretum President Stephen Hayes Sr. says the witches are particularly exciting after dark. The drive takes 30 to 40 minutes.
Not enough? Those same nights (Oct. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 and 27-28), the arboretum will host a Witch’s Cellar Break Out Room at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Can a group of 12 figure out the clues and puzzles within 45 minutes to avoid being trapped forever? Sessions are filling up fast, so be sure to reserve a space at hayesarboretum.org. The break out room is recommended for ages 7 and up.
But perhaps you’d rather experience your haunted woods on foot. One step across the Fayette County line west of Milton is the Scary Hollows Haunted Trail, offered those same Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 11 p.m. A hayride through the corn will take you from the parking lot to the entrance of the trail, where you will encounter mutant spiders, a pyramid, a fire-breathing dragon and more. There is a room with 10 doors – you have to figure out which is the exit. If that’s not enough of a challenge, the trail exit is through a corn maze. Scary Hollows tours are self-guided, but co-owner Adam Shank assures visitors that “our people are never far away.” It is possible to request a “light scare” for anyone easily frightened, and Shank recommends that smaller children go through while it is still light.
If you prefer to encounter witches and ghosts indoors, the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond will be haunted from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 13, 14, 20 and 21. Costumed characters will tell Halloween stories or read Halloween-themed books, and there will be interactive videos sprinkled through the museum. Executive Director Jim Harlan says the event is perfect for younger kids. Children are encouraged to come to the Haunted Museum in costume, candy will be distributed, and there is a real effort to make sure no one gets too frightened. “There’s no gore,” said Harlan. As at Scary Hollows, families can request that things be toned down for anyone who might find the experience a bit too much. Those children will get a battery-operated candle to carry – both for reassurance and as a signal to enactors.
The museum has also organized Tales From the Departed for 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at Earlham Cemetery in Richmond. Originally envisioned as a Halloween-related event, over the years Tales from the Departed has evolved into more of a local history lesson appropriate for all ages. (It’s in a cemetery, in October and involves costumes, but that’s the extent of its Halloween connection, Harlan said). The event focuses on interesting stories about a dozen people buried in or connected to the cemetery, as told by actors. This year’s featured folks include artist Bess Whitridge, especially known for her painted tiles, and James Coe, a World War II submarine commander. Harlan was heartened to overhear a young boy say at a previous event, “I didn’t know so many famous people lived in Richmond.” Most of the people featured are not really famous, he admitted. But it showed that – to that boy at least – the stories selected were powerful ones. The tour involves walking through the cemetery grounds. “It’s a great fall walk,” said Harlan, but not designed for wheelchairs or people with difficulty getting around.