For three brief days this Halloween season, an East Sooke couple is once again throwing open their house and property, in order to scare the pants off Halloween revellers.
Lindsay and Parry Trowell’s “Eerie Acres Halloween Creature Sanctuary” creaks open its gates for three days this year: October 25 and 26 — the Friday and Saturday before Halloween — and again on Thursday, October 31, all three days between the darkened hours of 7 to 10 p.m. Eerie Acres Halloween Creature Sanctuary is located at 1468 Woodcock Road in East Sooke.
The event “started it as a little hobby, like one room in our house, just our fun passion for scaring people,” said Lindsay Trowell in conversation with the Sooke News Mirror.
The idea was born from an effort to fund their nuptials back in 2005.
“When my husband and I got married back in 2005, we wanted to have what’s called a Stag-and-Doe to raise money for our wedding … we had a Halloween party. So we made all sorts of gravestones, and we hand-made a bunch of decorations for that. And we had this party, and then we were stuck with all these decorations and for a couple of years we couldn’t use them because we were in Metchosin and didn’t have space. We bought our house in 2006, and we could put up our graveyard.”
From there, the Halloween theme snuck on to the veranda, slithered into the home office, invaded more rooms inside the house, and crawled out into the woods, to become the full-fledged event it is today.
“The idea behind it is … it’s a sanctuary for anything that goes Bump in the Night. So, we have all sorts of creatures, from haunted apparitions to your typical Halloween witches to creatures you don’t really know what they are. And we’ve got 14 or 15 different stations this year, with different features in each one, and it goes in the house and then through the acreage.”
There is no age group recommendation. It’s more based on the ability to withstand tension and fear. For the younger souls, it’s up to the parents; for the older ones, well, know your limits and fear within it. The tours, which are guided, are largely based on the sense the guide gets from each group going through. For instance, if there are younger children in the crowd, the story of the Bone Crusher’s rehabilitation into a tooth fairy might not be told.
“If it’s an adult group,” says Trowell, “we might kick it up a notch.”
“And then we have the Full Scare,” laughs Trowell, “where they would do the full tour into the woods and through the back part.”
There is a bailout area where the scared and faint of heart can recapture their happy thoughts.
The tour can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on the each group, and there are often four staggered groups going through the house at any given time. There is usually a line-up to get in, and the Trowells have an area with shelter from the rain (should it be raining) where people wait their turn. And they don’t rush people through as there is a lot to see and experience.
“There is always a guide,” confirms Trowell.
In part, the guide is there to keep the visitor safe and to keep their experience intense and surreal; and in part, because this tour happens on private property and the Trowells want to safeguard their own house. Indeed, there are anywhere from 450 to 600 people who pass through their house in the short nine hours that they are open (three days, three hours each day).
With this large influx of people, the Trowells are also heavily reliant on volunteers.
“We need at least 16 volunteers to make it happen.”
Lindsay Trowell’s first appreciation goes to her partner in crime, husband Parry Trowell.
“My shout out would need to go to Parry Trowell (husband) the man with the dark fairy dust and makes it all happen.”
One of their key volunteers is Shannon Drewery.
“Shannon Drewery, the gate keeper of all things evil, has been a part of Eerie Acres since the very first creature arrived on our door step,” writes Trowell in an email. Additional gratitude goes to Chief Roger Beck and his family, and the entire East Sooke Volunteer Fire Department “creatures for their years [of] volunteered service at our sanctuary.”
Some of the volunteers serve as actors, participating as the many on-site creatures living (or deceased) in the sanctuary.
“We couldn’t hunt… oh I mean haunt with out you!” acknowledges Trowell.
There may still be the opportunity to volunteer, so if you are interested, contact Lindsay Trowell at email@example.com.
The Trowells aspired to create a geographically accessible event, available to residents of Sooke, as well as one that is financially affordable. They ask for a donation, with a suggested amount of $3 per person. Alternatively, you can bring a non-perishable food item. All of the food will go to the Food Bank; all of the funds raised will go to the Friends of Copper Mine Park, located in East Sooke.