Spring has officially sprung in central Ohio. With it, our thoughts turn to creating this year’s haunt and making it bigger and better than ever. There’s only one problem with that. We’re currently without a home to haunt.
Two and a half years ago, our family took their tradition of creating annual haunted trails and/or of working in haunted houses and turned our personal home into a haunt for a couple of nights with all of the donated proceeds to benefit our local Christmas lighting in the village of Bladensburg. We raised a nice little chunk of change with our mini haunt but, even more than that, the response to what we did was so amazing, we decided to go full commercial after that and, knowing the community was poised to take over a closed school building in town to use as a community center, we went on board to haunt a large portion of that. That building was to be our our means to scare a whole lot of folks, to provide some seasonal jobs for the community, to (hopefully) earn a profit for our fledgling business and to provide operating revenue for the community center.
Winter gave way to Spring in 2015 and Spring to Summer with no turnover of that building (a portion of which is pictured at the left). In late July, because we didn’t yet have access to it, we made a business decision to lease space and run run for the 2015 Halloween season in a large facility in a nearby village.
We weren’t ideally located for 2015 and we got a very late start – It was mid-August before we could start haunt building – but we were able to put a haunt together that we were proud of. Since we were essentially working in a pole barn with lighting but minimal electrical service otherwise, we had to build from the ground up and we had to add additional electrical service to power what we had. Decisions we made on rooms and displays were predicated on the availability of power.
We have an AMAZING group of friends and neighbors – who fast became friends – who worked an 11 night schedule as unpaid volunteers in 2015 to make our dream a reality. We did more with actors than we ever dreamed possible. There were nights where more than 40 actors and staffers took to the floor to scare every soul that ventured through the door. We catered to several hundred but not thousands of people in 2015 because our late start and the necessity of major construction negated any budget we would have had for large scale advertising. Still, we were happy with the outcome and we looked forward to a 2016 season in the old school building where we would finally be positioned
Well, it’s 2016. The building was due to be turned over in January and then February but now the transfer is upheld pending the outcome of litigation that could drag on for years. We can’t wait. We took a look at the property we own and determined, with some modifications and some protections for our neighbors, we could build on our own site. First, we need to tear this 100+ year old barn down then we need to level the land for as big a building as there is room for and that we can afford to put in place.
Some family members emptied out the barn of everything we wanted. A demo crew emptied it of all the hay and straw that had been rotting away in the loft for years (the roof is in bad shape) and now they’re dismantling it piece by piece. Their intent is to re-stand it in a different location.
Once the demo crew is done, we’ve contracted to have the plot leveled. We’ve also sought quotes for the building we want to build. Before insulation, which we’ll be able to get at cost on our own through other connections, we’re looking at a total, delivered to our site cost (but not assembled) of just under $14,000 for a post frame kit.
We’ll hire a crew to set nearly 3 dozen 12-foot posts and a crane and operator to raise and place the trusses. After that, it’s all us and many generous friends and family members who have offered their help free, except for food and drink. We hope to have the structure raised and finished, all under roof in June. Beyond that, we’ll have to have the power company in to run service from the road and a licensed electrician to wire the building for lighting, emergency lighting, outlets and so forth.
We’ve so far been able to come up with $7,000 between savings and the generosity of family. That’s only half the cost of the actual structure, before other construction and power expenses. We estimate total cost of the project (minus insulation) to be in excess of $20,000 leaving us a bit short, at present. There will be other costs, of course, as we construct the interior of the haunt but we’ll be able to bear these costs as we go along and, we’ve made plans to cover advertising costs as well for this year. We just need to get a building in process first.
Our plan is to hold a Kickstarter campaign to kick off in early April to raise the additional funding we need. Our fundraising goal is a little steep for this type of venture at $13,000 but we’re hoping the generosity of friends and strangers alike, coupled with some great gift incentives for donations, will power us through. Here are the incentives we’re planning for those who donate:
- $1 donation – Our personal thanks for your interest in our project and access to project updates throughout the year via Kickstarter
- $5 donation – All of the above plus your name or your business name on a dedicated supporter page on this website
- $10 donation – All of the above plus access to behind the scenes updates not available to the public and a free ticket to the haunt
- $20 donation – All of the above plus a second free ticket to the haunt
- $25 donation – All of the above and a Hagan’s House of Horrors sticker
- $50 donation – All of the above plus 2 additional free tickets (total of 4) and a t-shirt (adult sizes S-4X available)
- $75 donation – All of the above plus a behind the scenes tour and a chance to meet some of the actors before the doors open on any show night in October
- $100 donation – Everything from 1-6 above plus either helping with the haunt build for a day after building construction is completed or acting for a night in the haunt
- $250 donation – 1-7 above and acting for 1 or more nights in the haunt at your discretion as a full part of the regular cast for those nights (tickets are transferable in this case to others not viewing the haunt with you.)
- $500 donation – 1-8 above plus the opportunity to consult with our set designers to theme a room in the haunt and have your name associated with the room (limit 2) and permanent public recognition as a bronze level sponsor on the website and on the haunt itself
- $1,000 donation – 1-8 and 10 above with permanent recognition as a silver tier sponsor (limit 1)
- $2,500 donation – 1-8 and 10 above with permanent recognition as a gold tier sponsor plus tickets for 16 additional people (20 total) to attend a full dress rehearsal the weekend before we open for the season and a cast party afterward (limit 1)
- $5,000 donation – 1-8 above with permanent recognition as a platinum tier sponsor plus permanent naming rights for the blackout maze, plus tickets for 16 additional people (20 total) to attend a full dress rehearsal the weekend before we open for the season and a cast party afterward (limit 1)
When we exceed our fundraising goal, our plan is to add on permanent covered waiting facilities for our guests to protect them from the October elements. Weather can be so unpredictable in Ohio in October ranging, as it did in 2015, with nights below freezing (early October) to nights in the 60-70 degree range (late October). Raising building funds in advance also means we won’t be playing catch up like we did last year, our first full year, and we can pay our actors with more than just food, drinks and fun. No one complained at all last year but these dedicated men and women deserve to be paid. Don’t you agree?
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