Whatever it is, the creator of Rochester’s annual “Fright at the Farm” horror attraction at Willow’s Keep Farm, knows the fear-making potential of a simple sound or image. Last year’s No. 1-ranked top haunt in Minnesota is back, and the 1920s-style farm has new attractions to curdle your blood.
It’s a simple recipe really, if you’re a master at it.
“I think of people’s phobias and how I can twist it,” said Ted Galaty, aka Draco Neverdie, one of the farm’s tour guides and the creator. “That’s kind of what I do. What will make this environment fearful to somebody?”
Last year, more than 6,000 people walked through the 45-minute horror attraction, the largest turnout since Galaty began holding the hauntings nearly a decade ago. Galaty compares the experience to a roller coaster ride at an amusement park. You know what’s going to happen. You just can’t help screaming.
“Fear is part of our psyche,” Galaty said. “Why do people go on roller coasters? This is a ride.”
New attractions include:
• Willow’s Keep Asylum. Fright at the Farm gets people on edge from the start. Even waiting in line, people are treated to short horror flicks produced by Shattered Prism Studios, a local film company, just to get visitors in the mood. Then they enter the asylum, the first of eight mazes. Here, you’ll encounter patients, administrative staff and doctors. The problem is figuring out who is who. “It’s mayhem there,” says Draco.
• The Butcher Shop. There’s a new resident at Fright on the Farm. He’s a butcher. But not any old butcher. He’s a collector of sorts. And he collects different “parts” that he likes to show people. The quotation marks should tell you all you need to know.
• The Spider’s Den isn’t new, but it is Draco’s favorite room at the farm. It’s where his coffins are, and Draco has a lot of coffins. The room is entirely backlit with glowing spiderwebs that stretch 20 feet in the air. “It’s amazing. It just surrounds you,” Draco said. “So many go in there not expecting that. That’s just my favorite room.”
• Clowns in the barn. Scary clowns have been in the news lately, but they have been fixture at the farm for years. But this year they have been deployed in a new way. They have been in put in the barn. There’s something about seeing a clown wave from a window that unnerves. Draco said he has seen people go through the entire attraction but balk at entering the barn.
“They get to the point where there’s a clown waving in the window and it’s, ‘I’m not going there,’” he said.
But they often do. They can’t help themselves.