Every Halloween, we dress up to keep the ghouls, creatures and spirits at bay, feasting on candy, and of course, the occasional brains.
But what if there was place, right here, deep in the forest, thick with fog, that you’d go looking for these otherworldly creatures? A place where they naturally roam free, in search of new flesh and new souls …
It’s called Eerie Acres, a haunted house and cemetery that comes to life in East Sooke thanks to its two gatekeepers, Lindsay Trowell and her husband, Parry. And it’s nothing new for them either, in fact they’ve summoned these creatures every Halloween for the last nine years.
This year, the first wave of horror will take place on Saturday (Oct. 24), followed by Oct. 30, and Oct. 31, all from 7 to 10 p.m.
The idea behind it all? To provide an authentic, adrenaline-pumping, and truly terrifying experience for those brave enough to test their courage.
It’s also one of the biggest haunted house tours around, with up to 30 volunteers giving up their souls to become creatures themselves.
Plus, every time someone gets scared really good, it’s almost like a comedian getting joy out of people laughing, chuckled Lindsay.
“In the instance when people scream really good, the next thing they do is laugh really hard,” she said, adding that there’s a sense of satisfaction to be able to get that kind of reaction from visitors.
Initially, the Eerie Acres began as a fundraising dance in 2004, but since the Trowells were living in Metchosin at the time, they didn’t really have the space to let their imaginations loose. That is, until they moved to East Sooke, where they started decorating right away, leading up to the first official Eerie Acres tour in 2007.
No Acres event is the same either, as depending on the volunteers, the creatures themselves really vary as well every time.
“I’ve got a couple of cool creatures that I don’t always bring out, depends who I have, it also depends on the characters themselves. If they [volunteers] are willing to commit to a role that is different, it gives it a different twist over the past year,” she said.
Every group that goes through the Acres will have a guide with them, so people won’t just be wandering off into the woods, possibly becoming horror stories themselves.
Trowell also pointed out that their crew will gauge how much to increase or decrease the scare factor based on what kind of group they’re getting.
“We’ll figure out our audience first, see where they’re at. There are times when little kids freak out halfway through, or I’ll walk along with them, tell them what’s coming, and they can watch their parents get scared. We can either kick it up or kick it down a notch, depending on who we’re taking through,” she said.
Mind you, it takes time and effort to bring all these creatures, and indeed the environment, to life, dedicating anywhere between 20 to 40 hours a week for four weeks to get it all set up.
“A lot of it is little stuff, like the tinkering, we run a lot of animatronics, so since they’re being stored for the year and the moisture here, my husband often has to take them apart and re-solder things, make sure they work properly, or replace batteries,” she said.
Trowell added that despite all the work, Eerie Acres has and always will be a not-for-profit event, adding that a small admission fee goes towards covering basic repairs and expenses of running the event itself.
Visitors are also welcome to bring canned foods, as part of the proceeds, as well as the food, will be donated to the Sooke Food Bank.
In the end though, it’s all about providing a fun and affordable experience for everyone.
“I was always a haunted house buff, I would always go to them, but they’re really expensive. When you add a couple of kids to that, and a few of their friends, it’s like a fortune to go out to some of the haunted houses,” she said.
For her to fill all positions, she needs 20 volunteers each night, so anyone willing to become a creature of the night on any of the three nights (Oct. 24, 30 and 31) be sure to send an email to Lindsay and Parry Trowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or via cell phone at 250-217-4536.
Parking is available down the street from Eerie Acres, located at 1468 Woodcock Rd.
Extra pairs of underwear will not be supplied, unfortunately.