SIBLEY, Iowa — A pair of former school teachers have teamed up to add an extra adventure to the Osceola County Fair next week.
For the past two weeks, they — with help from members of the local fair board — have been scrubbing, waxing and painting the interior of the historic Goewey No. 5 school on the fairgrounds in preparation for the opening of an escape room.
The event — dubbed “Scandal at the Schoolhouse” — is a fundraiser for the McCallum Museum, which has hopes to construct a farm shed in the Sibley Park to house the museum’s agricultural exhibit. Beth Thole said she’d like to see the project completed before the community celebrates its sesquicentennial next year.
Thole recruited Barb Vander Veen to help organize the escape room, which asks participants to solve a mystery about a school teacher who has gone missing.
Their research for the idea led them on a 500-mile round trip late last month to rural Edgerton, Kansas, and a 43-minute adventure to solve the mystery in the Lanesfield country school escape room.
“They were willing to share ideas and photos,” Thole said. “We gleaned a lot of things from that experience.”
The Goewey No. 5 school house has been a fixture at the fairgrounds since its move there in 1972. While it was open to fairgoers in years past, this will be the first interactive-type project planned there. Both Thole and Vander Veen will dress up like country school teachers as they provide the initial “clue” to escape room participants.
They have allotted about an hour for each group (four to six people, teens must be accompanied by an adult) to come through and work to solve the mystery of the missing teacher.
“They’re given an initial clue and we say something that leads them down the road,” Thole said, likening the experience to a scavenger hunt. Participants will work through approximately 20 different steps (written clues and objects) to solve the mystery.
The escape room be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, but Vander Veen said they are willing to extend the hours if time slots fill quickly.
To reserve a time slot, people may call Vander Veen at (712) 541-8451, or visit the McCallum Museum Osceola County Facebook page and send them a private message through Messenger.
People are asked to arrive before their scheduled time to sign a waiver and get instructions. A fee is charged — although a Fair Special rate is being offered next week. All proceeds will go toward the farm shed fundraiser
“Those who complete this escape room will get their picture taken with their time,” said Thole, adding that the photos will be posted to the museum’s Facebook page and the Osceola County Fair’s Facebook page.
After the fair, Vander Veen and Thole will open the escape room by appointment only for groups to come in.