Lang Pioneer Village
Spooky Halloween Re-visited
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
Aside from a fast-paced midway ride, Halloween brings many traditions and opportunities to have the most fun while being scared. Of course, for families with younger children, it’s a fine line between the fun and the scary which is why Spooky Halloween at Lang Pioneer Village offers a mix of tricks and treats. Held on the two weekends prior to Halloween, the staff and volunteers work tirelessly to prepare for the visitors to make it a mix of fun, frights and old-fashioned games. Both children and adults are encouraged to come in costume and many rose to the invitation. Our own little Pikachu seemed to draw some attention but we noticed many inventive outfits as people (numbering in the hundreds) moved throughout the village.
Fun and Games...
One of our first stops was the Creepy Carpenter Shop where the contestants were given the chance to land a glow ring on the skeleton head. This challenge has a universal and multigenerational appeal. From there we toured the Spooky Halloween “graveyard” and the often humorous epitaphs of ghosts of imaginary villagers of eras gone by.
Trick or Treat?
Next we ventured into the House of Frankenstein where they served up some gory but tasty treats. No sign of the good doctor himself but with the glow of candles and the fireplace, the long shadows on the walls provided an appropriate backdrop for the room of monstrous creations.
Hot Chocolate and More...
We crossed over to the Keene Hotel for some more goodies including hot chocolate and Jack 0’Lantern cookies. These treats were particularly enjoyable as the evening air by this time was getting rather crisp and cool and we needed something to keep us going. It would appear the hotel maids had been off for quite some time given the amount of cobwebs covering the hallway and rooms. Even some of the classic paintings had an eerier than usual appearance. Was it real or just a trick?
A few of the locations had been transformed from their usual functions. One such place was the Spooky Halloween General Store where a palm reader was telling fortunes to those who dared ask. Around the corner the usual location for the cheese factory had become Candyland for the event. Available were the old-fashioned treats normally found in the general store but also kids could guess the weight of a giant zucchini. Zucchini in a sweet-treat store? Sounds like something a mom would plan.
Another significant aspect of Spooky Halloween in magic and kids of all ages packed in to see J.B. Buttons and the Marvelous Magic Show. Three shows were performed to give audiences a chance to see if the hand really is quicker than the eye.
History and Gore...
Another interesting combination of history and gore was in the Little Print Shop of Horrors where those who were brave enough could try to touch the remains of poor Gruesome Brown. It challenged many of the senses, particularly touch, accompanied by a poetic narrative. After that trick there was one more treat just outside the Fife Cabin where the witches were toiling and troubling over a special brew from a smouldering cauldron.
Between the food, the atmosphere and friendly ghosts, Spooky Halloween at Lang Pioneer Village is a wonderful way to celebrate the magical time of year and worth putting on your trick-or-treating route.
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
There was much excitement during this year’s Spooky Halloween at Lang Pioneer Village. The event was held on Friday and Saturday nights for two weekends in a row. It's the fall and it gets very dark around 6:00 p.m. That’s when all the fun begins! Judi was volunteering at this event. There were over 50 other volunteers! The doors opened at six sharp and the evening was underway. Judi was stationed at the main entrance to the Village and was selling “glow sticks” to the visitors. It was amazing to see the large number of people that continued to flow into the Village. When I arrived at about 6:45 p.m., the parking lot was full. I think it was the fullest that I have seen! Not only were the children dressed in Halloween costumes, the parents, grandparents, and most adults were also dressed in costumes! The costumes were amazing! A lot of thought and effort was put into them! Although it was dark, I could not help but see the "gigantic" round hay bail “Spider” as I entered the Village! It had humongous orange legs made of plastic large pipes, a orange “nose” made out of an actual toilet seat (including the lid), silver hubcaps for eyes. This was extremely popular with the kids and was a great photo opportunity for the adults. What a great way to start my adventure at Spooky Halloween!
Once inside the Village, I started exploring. I first walked over to the Milburn House. The line-up to get into it was long. I decided that I would come back to it a little later. I moved on to the Carpenter's Shop. Inside a mini "pumpkin" putting course had been set up. The kids were putting for prizes! Past the Carpenter's Shop was the Tinsmith Shop. This had been set up with lots of spider webs and VERY large spiders. Amazingly Judi had had a hand in setting up the display. She's very afraid of real spiders! The display was amazing and I was quite impressed! Across from the Tinsmith Shop was the Fitzpatrick House. Outside, in the garden area, a "spooky" graveyard had been set-up. Inside the house pirates were handing out gold (chocolate)"pieces of eight" to the children! At the Fife Cabin, across the path, a large outdoor fire was burning. Two witches were standing around an open caldron stewing some kind of "strange brew"! The kids and their parents were lined up to try a sample! Continuing along the Spooky Halloween path, I came to the Print Shop. Inside Pumpkin Buckets had been set up in a row. Each child was asked to put their hand in the bucket and guess what was in it! Next to the Print Shop was the Keene Hotel. Cookies and hot chocolate were being sold to both children and adults alike! In one of the hotel rooms children could try their hand at pinning the tail on a "Black Cat"! Also on the same side of the street was the General Store. I made my way inside. The store was very crowded. A palm reader was there, ready to reveal the secrets of those who dared to ask!
I crossed the Village Green, over to the Douro Town Hall. Tables had been set up so the children come make Halloween crafts. Black Bats with feather fur and felt eyes were being built! This was a very popular attraction! A little further on, in the church build, J.B. Buttons was performing magic tricks before an enthusiastic audience. From the Village Green area I took the dark road to the old school house. As I walked along the pathway, I was passed by the tractor pulled wagon ride. The wagon was full and everyone seemed to be enjoying the tour. The door was shut to the school house, but I could here people inside. I opened the door to a blast of hot air. The school's stove was throwing off welcomed warmth! A school teacher was at the front of the classroom telling the attentive audience of adults and children an exciting tale. I stayed to listen for a few minutes and then continued on to the next building. This was the Cheese Factory. It had bee transformed from selling smelly cheese to offering delicious candy! Candy apples seemed to be the main attraction! The store was crammed with excited children! From there I continued down the dark Spooky Halloween pathway back to the Visitor's Centre. Judi was still there selling her "glow stick"! They were almost all gone! I stayed to talk with her and then left to visit the one building I had missed earlier, the Milburn House. The line was now quite short and I was able to venture inside. A young man dressed in a black suit was explaining to some wide-eyed children that he had some "fresh brain" (crushed mangoes) for them to sample. One or two were adventurous enough to try it, while other turned away with "scrunched up" faces! I walked out without taking a sample!
Back at the "Glow Stick" Table...
It was getting near closing time, so I walked back to Judi and the "glow stick" table. She had sold almost all of the sticks. Only pink were left, and not many! Although it had been an overcast day, rain had held off, that is until closing time! It seemed that last of the visitors had left the Village when to rain started to come down. I quickly helped Judi move her table inside and then went off to collect our car. It had been a tiring but rewarding day and we were glad to be on our way home. Spooky Halloween at Lang Pioneer Village had been a great success!