The Haunted Farm
Wandering around the rambling property of Paula Bell, you might think you’re on any ordinary, small farm. Ducks, geese, and kittens scamper about in the yard, and the country air is filled with all the expected sounds and scents.
Yet, this farm is anything but ordinary. While Bell puts plenty of effort into caring for her animals (she has everything from goats to llamas to turkeys), what the place is best known for is its spooks.
Bell moved back to her family acreage just outside of Worthing six years ago with her husband, eager to preserve its function as a working farm. What she found was a money pit.
“The whole concept of the family farm is dying,” said Bell. Her dream is to open a farm attraction where people can get the full experience of seeing the barn, feeding animals, and learning more about life on a farm. Unfortunately, upkeep and repairs require funding. This is where the haunting comes in.
Since 2015, Bell has been running the Haunted Barn attraction during the last half of October as a way to make some extra money. She readily admits that haunted houses have almost no effect on her, but said, “I’ve got about 2,500 ideas in my head at a time. None of it scares me, I just look at it and figure out how it’s done.”
With such a creative mind, developing the Haunted Farm has been somewhat of a breeze for Bell. She collects props and materials at garage sales, finds ideas on Pinterest, and says she can make up to four scary mannequins in a morning.
“I’ll make the mannequins look very real and dress the actors at the farm so they look unreal, so you never know what’s going to jump at you,” she said.
The main attraction at the Haunted Farm is the Loft of Lunatics. Once you step into the barn, you’re transported into a maze of narrow hallways, dark corners, and roughly 10 terrifying scenarios around every turn.
So what makes Bell’s farm different from any other Halloween attraction?
“It’s a true scare,” said Bell, who understands that everyone has different fears. “Our actors are observant. They can tell what’s going to get different people … they come out of walls and even the ceiling at times.”
Because of this, Bell noted the Haunted Farm is friendly to all ages. “If a little kid is crying, the actors turn around, and they’re done. I’m not in the business of traumatizing children.”
Still, she said with a grin, “It’s not just for kids – quite a few adults have peed their pants on their way through.”
In the hayloft, Bell made note of small details that add extra flair. She pointed out a ramp, saying, “It’s that sort of thing that just throws you off. You lose that familiar feeling.”
The eerie décor throughout the barn is either handcrafted or collected. Bell visits garage sales, DIY’s fake blood and gore, and has her right-hand man, Kurt Meyer, to help with the construction and engineering of spooky scenarios, such as vampires swooping overhead, or a mannequin taking axe swings at another’s decapitated body.
Aside from the Loft of Lunatics, visitors can enjoy a spook-free hayride, pet baby farm animals, grab something to eat in the Snack Shack, or, for another dose of fright, make their way through the Dark Trail or the Haunted Forest with even more eerie music and scenarios.
“You could easily spend three hours here,” said Bell. Opening on Friday the 13th – ideal timing, of course – the Haunted Farm will run for three full weekends in October, with Halloween as its final night.
The Haunted Farm is for all ages. For more information, visit the Haunted Farm Facebook page.