WAYNESFIELD — For many of us, deep down, we love to be scared.
It is what makes us watch horror movies, jump out of airplanes and find the next big roller coaster. At this time of year, it also brings us to various local haunted attractions, including the new Hammer Brothers Haunted Circus on state Route 117 near Waynesfield.
“People are intrigued, and they want to get scared,” cornfield manager Philip Truesdale said. “But they want to feel comfort at the same time. When you come to a place like this, you know you’ll have a great time, but you won’t really get hurt.”
For Truesdale and creator Matt Gossard, this is the first year they are bringing their haunted circus cornfield attraction to the area, bringing over several actors from Harold’s Haunted Cornfield, which was not reopened.
“Our friends owned Scare Fair,” Gossard said. “We always wanted to do a haunt, so we did not do a haunt because of that.”
Despite the name, this new attraction is not a “circus,” but is, in fact, a circus-themed journey through a haunted cornfield, complete with new attractions, including glow-in-the-dark paintball.
“It’s about a farmer who was losing his ground, and he had to pay his mortgage,” Gossard said. “So he leased his ground to a circus. So it’s very farm-oriented and very circus themed. We tie everything together.”
Gossard and Truesdale have about 75 people involved with the attraction, which has brought in as many as 500 people in one night this season.
“I’m a big fan of word of mouth,” Gossard said.
Customers were waiting at the entrance as far as 45 minutes ahead of opening Friday, all of them looking forward to a good scare.
“It’s an obsession,” Janet McClary, of Pemberville, said. “I’m an adrenaline rush junkie. They scare me every weekend. We start in mid-September and go to a different one every weekend.”
For McClary, the key to a successful haunt is not simply giving the biggest scare.
“It’s all about timing, the pacing and crowd control,” she said. “If you send everyone through at one time and you see what’s coming ahead, it ruins the entire experience. You have to get a group through, give a few minutes and then get everyone reset. Timing is really essential.”
One gimmick especially gets the adrenaline flowing for McClary.
“If they jump out of the corn at my ankles, it gets me every time,” she said.
Newlyweds Bradley and Nicole Clem wanted to do something special to commemorate their first Halloween together.
“I really want to see him scared,” Nicole Clem said. “I think it’s fun.”
Her husband indicated, however, that he was up for the challenge.
“I don’t scare easily,” he said. “Now chainsaws, those get her every time.”