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Spooks run rampant at Lions haunted hay ride

Betsy Johnson makes an excellent, scary witch narrator on one of the hay wagons going through Village Park. (Photo by Sarah Young)1 / 2
Over 600 people rode the Lion’s Club haunted hayride wagons. They were able to warm up with tacos and a bonfire while waiting in line. (Photo by Sarah Young)2 / 2

This is the fourth year the Somerset Lions have orchestrated a haunted hayride in Village Park, and it just keeps growing every year, David Bracht said.

“It amazes me every year all the people that volunteer,” Bracht said. “The volunteers are great.”

Lions member Bartt Palmer was quick to heap praise on Bracht as well.

“He’s a mover and a shaker, “ Palmer said. “He gives a lot of time and effort and gets community members to volunteer.”

Palmer brought his food stand wagon for the second year in a row, serving tacos, elephant ears and warm beverages to people waiting in line. People could also warm their hands at the roaring bonfire.

According to Bracht, Palmer donates all proceeds from the sale of the food to the Lions.

The first couple of years they tried to serve hot chocolate out of the park building, but it was difficult, Bracht said.

“The taco stand works much better,” Bracht said. “Last year they sold out of food by the end of the night.”

Bracht said the only advertising done for the event is passing out fliers at the schools and word of mouth.

Area farmer Ed Schachtner and his son Don each drove a tractor and hay wagon piled with bales along the haunted route through the park.

Schachtner said last year they made at least 10 trips, “though some may have rode twice.”

Bracht said about 600 people came this year, which was a little busier than last year. About $1,200 was raised to go to various Lions projects, though a specific one hasn’t been picked.

Bracht said the Lions have been donating to food shelves in the past few years because times are tough and food shelves have been hit hard. Palmer said they also give to diabetes causes and Camp Needlepoint, a camp held in Hudson for children living with diabetes.

Passengers on the wagons seeking a thrill were driven through a variety of scary scenes in the park, including an electric chair, built by pilot Mike Ashton; a tent with a giant inflatable ant by the Boy Scouts; an old Army vehicle surrounded by chainsaw wielding maniacs; the Somerset dance team performing the <I>Monster Mash<I> dressed as scary dolls; and Somerset drama students dressed as cannibals cooking up a special stew.

Each wagon had a narrator dressed as a witch, who told stories as the route progressed.

Schachtner said one story told is how the first cemetery in the community was located in the park, but then all the gravestones were moved up the hill near the church.

In addition to the scary scenes, people wandered around ready to surprise passengers as they rode along.

Since it is a family friendly event, no one is allowed to grab passengers as they pass by on the wagons.

Bracht said while the event is not a huge money maker, it is meant to give families an affordable night out without breaking the bank, which is tough to find these days. It’s especially tough for families with many children. That’s why they only charge $10 a family, Bracht said.

“The Lions just give the money back to the community anyway,” Bracht said. “I just want it to be a fun, reasonably-priced night out.”

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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