By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Eliciting fear is the main objective of those behind the Haunting at Horse Creek fundraiser.
The event is intended to be a fun way to raise money for a good cause. However, if no one gets truly scared, organizers will be quite disappointed.
“This year, we’ve added a few details that will improve the overall quality of the event,” said organizer Rob Hulbert of rural Bluford. “What we strive for is to genuinely scare the people regardless of their age group, whether they’re a teenager or an adult.”
The Haunting at Horse Creek, now in its fourth year, features both a hayride and walk through some “haunted woods” in Jefferson County.
The event is hosted by Rob and Stacy Hulbert and mostly takes place on their property northeast of Mt. Vernon. Their family and friends help them run the attraction.
This year’s dates are Oct. 18-19, and Oct. 25-26. Hayrides and walk-throughs begin at 7 p.m. each night and tickets are $8 per person. All proceeds benefit Relay for Life of Jefferson County.
“I hope there’s a sense of on the part of individuals who participate that they’re making a contribution to a really good cause,” Rob said. “I also hope people simply have a good time and enjoy themselves.”
Once visitors have paid for their tickets, they are taken on a roughly 20-minute hayride on an old county gravel road.
They are then dropped off in the middle of the woods and given flashlights and instructions on where to go.
Next, visitors embark on a trek through the woods before being picked up for a return hayride. The entire attraction, including the hayrides and walk, takes 45 to 75 minutes to complete.
Along the forest path will be different horror scenes, as well as “random ambush scares,” Rob said.
“The scares, the genuine fear we try to generate, I hope that it’s something they’ll remember and continue to want to come out and experience,” Rob said.
New to this year’s event is a special Trick-or-Treat Tour for kids from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 26. This walk through the woods will not be scary and is geared toward children 12 and under. The cost is $5 per person.
Attendance at the fundraiser has grown steadily over the years.
The first Haunting at Horse Creek occurred on one night only and drew 152 people. Last year’s four-night event brought in over 800 people and raised about $5,000, Rob said.
Organizers hope to raise $6,000 this year, Rob said.
Ashley Withrow, co-chair of Relay for Life of Jefferson County, said events like the haunted woods fundraiser serve an important purpose by helping support cancer research and patient services in this area.
“I hope they have a great turnout,” Withrow said. “I think it’s great they put this on every year.”
Rob and Stacy Hulbert are members of Team Life Savers, which competes at Relay for Life every year.
Both of their families have been touched by cancer. Stacy’s uncle passed away from melanoma a few years ago and Rob’s grandmother also died from cancer.
“We’ve all had a personal touch from that horrible disease,” Rob said.
To reach the haunted woods, travel east on Illinois 15 toward Bluford, then turn north on Harmony Road. Next, follow Harmony Road to Malecki Road and turn right. Signs will be posted along the way to guide you to the site.
Food and drinks will be sold at the event’s starting point.