JAMESTOWN — Every horror movie set on a farm near a small town seems a little more realistic after a visit to the Indiana Fear Farm, which returns for his 11th season.
Sabrina Kent-Doolin, owner of KD Entertainment and the Fear Farm, said the idea came to them more than a decade ago when, with their farm land, they needed something else to stay afloat.
“It actually started out as just a horse farm and we boarded horses, gave lessons, and it was just not cutting it, to be quite honest,” she said.
So she and her family took their love for Halloween and built what has become one of the few and most unique interactive haunted houses in the area, using more than 100 actors, realistic scenes.
The aptly named Slaughter Barn appeals to the hard core haunted house enthusiast while the Haunted Hayride caters to fans of the season with an added entertainment style twist.
“After the first five years, we added the Slaughter Barn, as well as adding our Gore Store where we sell IFF snacks and drinks,” Kent-Doolin said. “It’s gone from back in the day where we had maybe 12 of us running around from scene to scene, hoping we got to the next spot in time, to now on any given night when we’ll have 40 to 50 actors in the woods and in the barn as well. Everything is fully audio now, including people flying over air, explosions, things chasing you, to dancers on the hay ride. Where we’ve come in 11 years are miles apart.”
Ironically, it’s become that “different” path of building everything from the ground up, little to none of it bought new, that has become the hallmark that keeps bringing people out to their farm house. Now, it is complete with scenes that look like they fell out of anyone’s favorite horror flick.
From their famed “butcher room” to the Fear Farm High, which is a full-sized bus turned into an interactive horror scene, the scares come differently every time because of the volume of actors involved.
“We’ve become known for that very thing that worked against us for many years,” Kent-Doolin said. “We’ve learned to cherish our weaknesses. We didn’t have a big budget. Most haunted houses like this have money backing them. We had to build it the old fashioned way. It’s good, old fashioned, catch-you-off-guard good ideas. That’s one of the things people love about us.
“We’re heavily people haunted. Animatronics come in and they’re gone. People can act with you in so many different ways. People get an over the top feel. It’s like watching a movie. We literally try to inundate you from every angle.”
And that is the catch. Kent-Doolin says that they’ve evolved over the years to include some animatronics, but refuse to have rooms without people in them, making the evening for patrons completely unscripted both indoors and out, all with an end result that helps them give back to the community at an alarming percentage.
“One of the unique things about our haunt is you truly get an original show every night,” she said. “That’s because we are solely haunted by groups looking to raise money. So we have key clubs, dance clubs, theatrical clubs, foreign language clubs looking to raise money for trips, and we donate money as well as give them tickets to come back.”
Kent-Doolin says they gave more than a third of their earnings back into the community through school clubs that the actors participated in and are even branching out past schools to other clubs.
“It allows us to bring them into the community and just as important, that’s one of the things that sets us apart,” she said. “It’s grown, obviously, with us, so now we require a very large number of school participation, but we also have teams like travel volleyball and softball. It’s really started putting its reach out and reach its fingers out past the schools.”
Youth that participate as actors, mostly teenagers, are required to have a sponsor with them, either a parent or a teacher.
And the end result year in and out is always the same, promises Kent-Doolin.
“We guarantee you’ll be entertained,” she said. “It’ll be an experience like they’ve never seen before. We truly have something for everyone. Most haunted houses are designed to reach a certain demographic and that’s it. But our haunted hayride is for everyone. It’s just as much entertainment as scare. They interact with you on an up close and personal level, and then for the non-enthusiast, you can relax with our hot chocolate and people watch. We truly have people that come out and never buy a ticket and spend all night with us. It’s really unusual to see that at a haunted house. We don’t want to be the biggest. We just want to be the best.”
The ticket prices for the hay ride are $14 for adults and $12 for children. Tickets for the Slaughter Barn are $12. A combo pack that allows access to both is $22 for adults and $20 for children ages 8 and younger. Group pricing is available as well by calling (765) 366-8493.
The Indiana Fear Farm is at 6736 S. 500 W., Jamestown. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 to 10 p.m. Sundays and Thursdays, throughout October.
For more information, visit the website at www.indianafearfarm.com.