For one evening, there was something really downright spooky and creepy going on at the Hettinger County fairground Friday.
Especially after dark.
By Brad Mosher
Mott was haunted.
There were Killer Clowns and deadly ghouls crawling around near the Mott Golf Course. There were skulls with ghostly lighting and ghoulish family portraits on the walls.
It was a “Haunted House” fundraiser a few days before Halloween for the local school’s Future Business Leaders of America.
According to Autumn Martin-Geerts, the 2018 haunting at the Hettinger County Fair building was a success because of the efforts of the participants and using the right music and sound effects to go with the “Quarantine Zone” theme.
“I had the idea of doing a mask theme, then I saw something on the internet about doing a quarantine zone. I thought that would be really cool. So we incorporated the masks with the people and had people wearing masks as they were walking through,” she said.
The FBLA will put the money raised at the “haunting” to go to attending the group’s next conference in the spring or the FBLA week. “It is a nationally-celebrated week supporting the FBLA across the country.
“We’ll do one day giving treats out to all the classes,” she added.
Geerts said that there were more than 80 people who went into the “Quarantine Zone” Friday, including a number of people who went through more than once.
She said that she really started thinking about the haunting back in June. “We started working on props that we would have to make.”
She even said that being an early haunt would give her the possibility to see how other communities do the “hauntings” and look for ideas for next year.
The Mott haunting allowed one group to go through at at time, with a guide handing out small flashlights and warning the visitors to put on the protective masks and not to touch anything when they go the dark maze.
“I think some of the highschoolers were a bit more scared than the little ones who weren’t quite sure what was happening. The highschoolers understand what we were trying to get across better than some of the younger ones,” she said.
The fairground wasn’t the first place for a haunting. “Last year, we did it at the library. They offered to help us out with it and we took it. We were kind of rushed last year, so we kind of went with what we could get,” she added.
The creation of the haunted contaminated zone inside the fairground building started two days earlier, finishing ahead of schedule, she explained.
The layout was by design, Geerts said. “I was thinking it would be scarier if it hopped from theme to theme, so it keeps your mind going and they would get a chance to get used to it. They would never really know what would come up next.”
According to Geerts, the visitors commented afterward that the clowns scared them the most. “Our sick room or quarantine room kind of surprised people because I don’t think that really has been done around here. So I think that was kind of shocking to some people.”
Geerts said that when they were building the layout in the building, there had to be some last minute changes.
“Next year, I will keep in mind our problems this year, and if we use the same building, I will try to have plans for that.
“Next year, I plan to have more people help me and give more jobs to other people,” she said. Between planning, preparing, building and performing, the FBLA production had more than two dozen people working behind the scenes. Several of the people who worked behind the scenes were unable to help on Friday, she explained. “They helped with the majority of setting up and a few of us finished it out.”
Looking ahead, Geerts, a junior, said the FBLA will have a new theme and change up a few of the rooms. Maybe, we’ll get a different building.
“I love the idea of switching up the location, because then you can’t expect it to be the same. It would be completely different,” the current chair of the Haunted House committee said. “I was the one who got it started, so I wanted to be the head of it this year.”
The snack table has a good response. “I just wanted to throw that in there because I remember when they did a local haunted house they had one. I thought it was a nice touch and would calm your nerves from the haunted house,” she added.
There were two seniors involved Friday, one behind the scene lighting up the skulls and one was one of the actors in the last room. “She was one of the killers in that room.”
As for the future, people might be able to expect more clowns to make an appearance, she said. “I think we will for sure have a clown room next year. That scared almost everyone that went through. No matter if you’re scared of clowns normally, creepy clowns are just … creepy.”