“Obviously it was an idea whose time had come”, Bruce Hobley, one of the original founders of the Haunted Village reflects on the origins of the event. “We didn’t know if anyone would come, that year we had 600 people”.
With shrieks that can be heard from the parking lot and a line-up several hundred people long, the Haunted Village attracts crowds of approximately 3,000 people each year.
Behind the scenes, the enthusiasm of the volunteers is the real heart of the night.
At the Kimble House, it’s a family affair, Liana Oliver started bringing her kids, now she and her family run the apple bobbing activities. A former teacher she loves the event because she gets to help out and enjoys the spirit of community while visiting with former students.
The feelings of excitement bubble over at the haunted maze, a project by local Grade 7 and 8 students. The students spend the week leading up to the night of the Haunted Village preparing the maze, Aiden Fagan remarked, “we won’t scare the little kids, but anyone grade three and up, we’re going to scare them good”. Aiden and his friends section of the maze is called Hall of Horrors and features 80s classic horror characters like Michael Myers, Pennywise, Chucky, Jason and The Nun.
At The Henderson House, Marie Stokx tells the story of the Wickerman. Visitors are encouraged to write wishes and place them inside the wicker casing. Some of the wishes are really beautiful and personal Marie reflects, some can bring tears to your eyes.
The event includes local businesses as well. The Muir House played host to Kawartha Mediums. Debbie Claire Kemp and Emily Kemp are a mother-daughter duo who co-own the Zen Den in downtown Bobcaygeon. “We were thrilled when we were approached to participate in this event”, Debbie remarks.
The Haunted Village has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a suggestion by a visiting historical reenactment group. Bruce Hobley remarks it is the people who make the event successful. “People get really creative”. He reminisces, “The people who started this with me, they were all around my age, now we all have canes”.
The event is completely volunteer run and for Nicky Mac Phearson who mingles in costume, handing out candy, “I started off coming and never looked back. It is so rewarding!”
Written By: Patricia Sheppard
Photos By: Bruce Hobley