DANVILLE — Care for a jaunt through a dark forest being chased by a zombie? Or being stuck in a room with clowns wielding butcher knives popping out of the walls?
It’s all for a good cause, as the FEARgrounds opens this week at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds.
Presented by the non-profit Haunts of Hidden River, the house will be open to the public and running Oct. 18-21 and 25-28. Proceeds from the event go to various Hendricks County charities, most notably for 2012, Sheltering Wings and Project A.N.G.E.L.
“We’re a 501(c3) non-profit, and all the proceeds go back to the community,” said Jonathan Blake, president of the Haunts of Hidden River. “We’re 100 percent volunteer, from the board on down to security. We get numerous donations (for the FEARgrounds), both financial and in kind, so we really try to make the event happen with the least amount of capital than we can. That way we can give that much more back to the community.”
While the theme is similar to last year’s, Blake said there are changes as their goal is to improve on an annual basis.
“One of the first things people might notice different is the layout,” he said. “As we started laying things out, we changed the course and the direction of some of the rooms. The general theme is the same — it’s still supposed to be heightening your fears from different phobias like clowns, spiders, those kinds of things. But we really tried to take it up a notch this year and work on the fine details.”
Some of the highlights are the popular clown and forest rooms, which Blake noted were crowd favorites last year. He said patrons should expect one of their new favorites to be the first room they’ll go through this year, which will play on extreme darkness and directional paranoia.
“People always like not knowing what’s around the corner,” he said. “I keep telling people it’s not for the faint of heart, but we work on scaring you tastefully. We don’t have suicide scenes or scenes that people might think are too close to home. We focus on scaring our visitors, but not taking it to a personal level. We’ll invade your personal space, but we’ll never touch you. All the rooms have been fully detailed from top to bottom. I think everybody’s in store for a great experience and certainly a frightful one.”
Blake also hopes people know how hard all of the volunteers worked on the house, and encourages those who want to get involved in the future to do so.
“We got all the walls erected in a day and a half, and in about two weeks we had everything done,” he said, while noting that the group has been working every day, often until midnight on weekends. “It’s taken a lot of volunteer hours. We can’t thank them enough. Once you get into the rooms, you’re going to see the details that went into it and the amount of time it took.
“For me, the fun is watching people get scared. I’m not an actor, nor do I claim to be. I just organize the event, along with our fellow board members. Our volunteers have fun. You’re going to have just as much fun being a volunteer here as the people coming through the house. So for me, it’s the enjoyment of seeing people get scared, coming out the exit door laughing, and wanting to go back through a second time.”
More information about the FEARgrounds may be found by visiting the website at www.hauntsofhiddenriver.com. Ticket prices range from between $10 and $12 and there is also a volunteer application on the site.
The Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds is at 1900 E. Main St., Danville.
Just the facts
WHEN: Oct. 18-21 and 25-28
WHERE: Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds