Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal ran a great article on a most interesting trend: farmers who are moving away from agriculture and repurposing chunks of their land — in many cases, larges swaths of it — into dedicated, Halloween-themed “agri-tainment” spaces. And I’m not just talking run-of-the-mill pumpkin patches and hayrides ... more like elaborately designed, multi-acre theme parks complete with unused barns transformed into haunted houses, corn mazes, and admittance charges that provide supplementary (or even primary) income for struggling farmers.
As anyone who’s created a haunted house and opened it to the public before (as a kid, neighborhood haunted houses were probably my favorite thing ever, hands down) could probably tell you, they do it as a labor of love … and to scare the hell out of people. But at more than 500 American farms, scaring people has evolved into a booming cottage industry given that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 census report, only 45 percent of the 2.2 million farms nationwide show positive net cash income from actual farming.
Take Glenn Boyette of Clayton, N.C. He transformed 110 acres of his 150-acre farm into Clayton Fear Farm, a seasonal theme park that boasts not one but three haunted houses, a corn maze, a haunted trail, and more. “People love to be entertained more than they love to eat,” says Boyette. Then there’s Randy Bates, a farmer who added a haunted hayride, a corn maze, and a vastly popular haunted house called the Bates Motel to his family farm outside of Philadelphia and saw the farm's yearly revenue jump from just $50,000 to more than $1 million.
Head on over to the WSJ to read the entire article, Farm House to Haunted House: Making Hay with Horror, and learn about how a handful of other American farmers have begun to rely more on providing people with thrills and chills than basic sustenance.
Is there a farm-based haunted house in your neck of the woods? Tell me about it in the comments section!