By Sue Tiffin
If a terrified trick-or-treater who dares to enter a haunted forest walk screams in the woods, does anybody hear them?
Rachael Velkovski will be listening closely, delighted to frighten brave visitors to her Minden home in the days leading up to Halloween, and that evening as well.
“I didn’t expect so much of a positive reaction to it,” said Velkovski, who paused during set-up of the event, which takes about two or three days, to speak with the Times. She expects up to 100 people to the property over the run of the event.
Velkovski and her husband, Allan, are setting up the walk through the forest on their property as a treat for the community, especially those older kids, teens and adults who might be looking for something a little more terrifying to do in the area. Scary music, animatronics, props that “move and blow smoke,” and people jumping out when they’re not expected is sure to result in in thrills.
“It’s not for the easily scared, that’s for sure,” she said, noting there’s a lot of “shock-scare” in the design of the event. “We did it last year just for my nephews and my step-children because of COVID. I went a little crazy and spent quite a bit of money, and I thought, it would be a shame to have all of this stuff go to waste. Why not give back to the community and have a little fun event while you’re doing it.”
Visitors to the site will be greeted by a zombie directing traffic and helping to organize parking. Prior to entering the attraction, ghouls and guests are reminded that “no kicking, punching, biting, scratching” is tolerated, and those who feel more fear than they expected while engaged in the event can yell “chicken” to be escorted out. The walk takes about five to ten scream-filled, heart-pounding minutes, and then a walk back through the forest leads visitors to safety and the comfort of their own cars.
“With people scaring you, you kind of need that space,” said Velkovski.
Her friends, family members, colleagues and neighbours are getting into the spirit, joining in to help with set-up or to act as costumed scarers that evening.
“Just people hearing about the event and wanting to be a part of something,” said Velkovski.
Admission costs $2, a price Velkovski said she tried to keep low to allow access for everyone. Proceeds will be donated to the Minden Food Bank.
“I just thought it’d be a nice way to give back to the community, and we never have any kids out here for Halloween so it’s a good way to lure them in, and neighbours can get some candy out and get out there in the community a little bit.”
Velkovski said some of her neighbours have started to put Halloween decorations up, even if they never have before.
“So the spirit’s really spreading,” she said. “I hope if nothing else it gets people out, especially after COVID. I think people need some spirit.”
The Haunted Forest Walk takes place on Oct. 29, 30 and 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1043 Turntable Drive in Minden, toward Kinmount. The event is not recommended for children under eight, or those that are easily scared. Adults are welcome if they dare. Social distancing will be in place. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.