WINDOM — Returning for the sixth straight year is Windom’s Haunted Sghoul House, where visitors will enjoy a brand new frightening experience locked away in “Devil’s Hole Penitentiary.”
The annual event will once again cause Windom to be a destination for three weekends leading up to Halloween to provide a truly frightening experience, which organizers are proud to say that a selection of those who enter aren’t able to finish.
“You will see things you should never see,” said Business Arts and Recreation Center Director Greg Warner of the event, which he assured isn’t for the easily scared. “By the end, you’re going to be so thankful you made it through.”
Windom’s Haunted Sghoul House kicks off its haunted jail-themed production this weekend. Tour dates are Oct. 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26. Tours begin each night at 6:45 p.m. and take place every hour leading up to the final tour at 9:45 p.m. Tours last approximately one hour.
Along with the new theme comes a new venue. The production will begin and end at Sun Bowl, 111 First Ave., Windom. Transportation will be provided from Sun Bowl to the Business Arts and Recreation Center, as organizers have utilized the 1931 building to their advantage since the haunted sghoul house’s inception.
As always, guests of Windom’s Haunted Sghoul House will enter into a story line. This year, visitors will be the role of someone wrongfully convicted of a crime and thrown in jail. Can they make it out alive?
Warner said having a story line helps better involve guests and make the experience feel more real and scary. A truly terrifying experience is the point, Warner said, adding that the production is complete with light, sound and special effects that creates an environment best maneuvered by people of overall good general health. The production is not recommended for young children, and kids younger than 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
Five-time volunteer Taylor Hudson is motivated by one main objective each performance: getting people to declare the safe word “bunny” because they just can’t take it anymore.
“I had a couple of people say ‘bunny’ right in front of my face last year,” said Hudson, who is one of more than 100 volunteers that participate from across the region. Seventy “bunnies” were rescued during last year’s performances, and the crew is looking for more this year.
“We take it very seriously,” Warner said about the fright factor.
The annual haunted house is one of Windom’s largest attractions, which draws more than 900 out-of-town visitors, Warner said. Regarded as one of Minnesota’s best haunted houses, guests traveled last year from seven states — the farthest away being Kentucky — to experience the fright firsthand.
Numbers like that are a testament to the more than 100 volunteers who pull off the annual event, which was started with more in mind than hosting a shrieking good time for guests.
According to Warner, the community event aims to bring folks into town and give them reasons to stick around for a little while.
The community has long supported the event, from donating props and costumes to donating food and beverage for the volunteers. A new twist that gives ticket holders exclusive coupons to participating businesses has been well-received by Windom and Mountain Lake-area businesses, Warner said.
“It’s the whole community that really gets involved, because I think they’re really seeing this is an economic development engine,” he said. “We’re really trying to make Windom a Halloween destination.”
According to Windom Economic Development Director Drew Hage, the community event highlights what a nonprofit can accomplish with community support.
“The event attracts thousands of people to Windom, which bring additional business to the Historic Downtown Square and local businesses,” Hage said.
While ticket sales are available at the door, tour availability isn’t guaranteed, as space is limited to approximately 50 people per tour.
Advanced tickets may be purchased by calling the BARC, (507) 831-2375.