The haunting season is upon us. In a few weeks, little monsters, goblins and even some super heroes will be knocking on doors and begging for treats (I’m more of a pull tricks on the little creatures kinda guy). But, since some of us (as Lisa has reminded me several years) are too old to go trick-or-treating, we have our kinds of treats…as in haunted houses or other-worldly “fun.”
We’ve had the chance to check out some regional attractions in the last year for some scary (and informative) experiences.
Since it’s early Fall, and everyone loves pumpkins, you should check out some of the area’s pumpkin patches. Most pumpkin patches are open through early November.
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch – Gretna, NE
A favorite of ours is Vala’s in Gretna, Nebraska. It’s a short drive from Omaha. Vala’s has been in business for a few decades. The pumpkin patch has grown during the years. I recall doing a story on the patch when I worked in weekly newspaper many moons ago. It was a small family operation then. Vala’s will be open Sept. 18-Oct. 31.
Now, it has several buildings and attractions. Kids of all ages can go through the haunted farm-house. It’s not too bad for a makeshift haunted house. There are a few stops in that make you want your teddy bear and hide in a corner.
Vala’s has a lot of fun attractions – including the pumpkin launcher. You can watch a pumpkin be shot through the air to see how far it will travel.
The corn maze is always fun. Go early though, as the stalks get trampled during the six-seven weeks it’s open.
I like the pumpkin eating dragon. It even “talks” to the show’s host.
Ok, the main reason people go to Vala’s is for pumpkins, right? Well, they have a great selection of the gourd.
Also, make sure you grab some lunch there or maybe take home a fresh dessert.
Enchanted Acres – Franklin County, Iowa
Enchanted Acres in Sheffield gives people another reason to make a trip to North Iowa. You’ll likely have your pick of about 20 types of pumpkins Sept. 17-Nov. 1.
The pumpkin patch opened in 2013 and has seen steady growth. A play area occupies the original pumpkin patch.
People can have cookouts and parties at the patch. Or, they can venture into the pumpkin field to pick out that perfect jack-o-lantern.
A gift shop offers dessert and locally-produced gifts.
St. Joseph, Missouri
If ghosts are more your style, then head to St. Joseph, Missouri. You can have your choice of a couple of events in the area.
The Harris-Kemper Neighborhood Association sponsors a haunted tour Oct. 10th. We took this tour last year and had a fun time.
Homeowners and volunteers dress as ghouls and ghosts. As guests tour the neighborhood for an hour or so, they come across these creatures. Each house on the tour has supposedly had a ghost encounter or something terrible happened there.
The house that struck me the most had a ghost bride sitting on the front porch watching us. Later, I saw her walk across the front yard. In the dark and the subtle lighting used, it looked like she was floating.
A group of “dancing ghosts” were taking a break and sitting on a retaining wall as we walked past. They gave an eerie appearance. I think that image may have been scarier than anything I’ve seen a movie.
St. Joe also hosts a “Voices from the Past” event at the Mount Mora Cemetery. You take a shuttle bus from the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion to the cemetery after dark. People dressed as the occupants of the mausoleums along the route step out of the darkness and tell a little bit of their story. This year’s theme is “Stories of Passion, Love and Heartbreak.” The tour is offered Oct. 22-23.
While it technically isn’t a haunted tour, it’s still a bit nerve-wracking.
We found the cemetery “friendlier” during daylight hours. We toured it beyond the mausoleums, and found some interesting bits of information. One person was buried in the late 1700s. Soldiers from sides of the Civil War are buried there.
Atchison, Kansas – Most Haunted City in Kansas
Atchison is considered the most haunted city in Kansas. Cable shows have visited and filmed episodes at some of the houses.
Atchison, in northeast Kansas, had more than 50 millionaires living in the mansions during its heyday. That usually means many ghost stories.
Bert Craft was a train engineer, who died saving his passengers from a fire on a railroad bridge. His ghost is said to drive a phantom train along the tracks. We found his grave in the local cemetery. It has a train engine engraved on the headstone.
The Sallie House is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who died during surgery. She awoke during the operation, but died from shock. She allegedly looked at the surgeon with fear and hatred in her eyes. Thus, she is said to roam the house.
The Haunted Atchison tour is so worth the admission. It takes about an hour, but you learn a lot of information and it definitely gets you psyched for the holiday. We took the day tour, because Lisa was scared to go at night. Not really. The day tour offers a better view of the houses. People don’t decorate the houses for the tour, so the daylight offers a better view.
The Atchison cemetery was an interesting visit. We did find some interesting sites. Amelia Earhart’s maternal grandparents are buried there. Amelia was from Atchison.
We were in the cemetery near sunset. If I’ve learned anything from watching horror movies over the years, it’s not to be caught in a cemetery after dark. Plus, some of the headstones looked a bit spooky during daylight. I didn’t want to see how they appeared in the dark.
Halloween Haunt at World’s of Fun- Kansas City
If you want to be truly scared out of your shoes and beg for mercy, and your momma, then checked out Haunted Halloween at Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun. It runs each night on the weekends starting Sept. 18 through the end of October.
The park goes from a happy, family-oriented park during the day to several haunted houses and a lot of creepiness as sunset approaches.
Park-goers have their choice of mazes and haunted houses to attend. Be ready to stand in line to be frightened. Wait times can be long, but the end if worth it.
We visited a farm that was home to a lot of inbred residents. Bloodshed, also known as MacDonald’s Farm, had a lot of folks who liked to skin and chop up things – mainly people. The characters had some great make-up and acted well.
The entire park has about 400 people dressed as monsters, goblins, ghouls, zombies, and whatever else your imagination can dream up.
Don’t like clowns? Well, then avoid the circus area.
Actually, characters from all the realms roam the park’s grounds to give a bit of a fright to people when they least expect it.
I’m sure a lot of cities have great haunted houses, but we wanted to share a few ideas with you as you plan your month of haunts.
As you plan to progress from the family-safe pumpkin patches in the Midwest to some dark, scary places, have fun.
For more information on the places we visited or to make plans of your own, please visit the following sites: