Halloween. It’s just one word, and yet, it has the power to conjure up so many feelings. From trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns to spooky thrills and ghoulish chills, Halloween has it all. For the bravest spook chasers and thrill seekers, there is one place beckoning—daring you even—to come.
Pope’s Haunted Farm has been perfecting high-impact scares and over-the-top frights for 25 years now.All you have to do is read the disclaimer found at the bottom of their Web site, popes-farm.com, to realize it’s the real deal and not for the faint of heart!
“I started this while I was still a student at Auburn University,” said Troy Pope, owner and scare mastermind. “I have always loved Halloween and one October during college, a group of us went on a road trip to a haunted hayride in Columbus. It was awesome and when it came to all came to an end all I could think was, ‘Man, this is for me.’”
Pope’s mind immediately went to work, plotting, planning and scheming. He wrote and developed a business plan as part of a class project and set to work making his dream a realiy—albeit one nightmares are made of some.
"I like to change things up a little each year. All year long, we’re preparing. It takes research, planning and testing. Lot of trial and error,” he said. “We go to trade shows for ideas and state-of-the art animatronics. St. Louis has a big one every year. They are really in to Halloween up there. It’s great.” Pope’s love for the holiday is contagious and as he shared a few of the new tricks and treats in store for this year’s haunted experience, it was impossible not to get caught up in the fun. But have no fear, we will not be spoiling any of the real thrills that await, only a sneak peek.
"We decided to retire the paintball Zombie attraction and add the Haunted Buggy Ride,” Pope said. “We tried a few ideas and buggy styles and the third option was the winner.”
There are five 2-seater buggies connected in a line. They will be pulled by a tractor through woods, and according to the Web site, it’s full of up close and personal scares—“as close as you can get to fear.” Riders beware. You may find yourself sounding like the cat lady in Jeepers Creepers saying, “That's not my scarecrow.”
Pope’s Haunted Farms has four total attractions, including the buggy ride. There is the Haunted Hayride for those who prefer a group-setting. This tractor-drawn wagon takes about 30-35 riders on an over a mile long trek through the woods complete with about 40 live actors and frightful animatronics. The Haunted Barn is “11,000 sq. ft. of fear,” with more than 30 different scenes that change from year to year. It is a walking tour and also has tons of animatronics and live actors. For the bravest event goers, there is the Haunted Forest, which is billed as Pope’s Haunted Farms “most intense event.”
Apparently no one should feel bad if they tap out as it happens often.
Attractions can be purchased individually or as a set. Gates open Friday night, October 5, at 6:30 p.m. and close at 10 p.m. Those are the hours for Oct. 6, 12-13, 19-20, and 26-27. Sunday, Oct. 28, hours of operation are 6:30-9 p.m.
On the eve of Halloween and Halloween night, there is a special Haunted Barn Flashlight Tour and the Haunted Buggy Ride will run from 6:30-9 p.m. For more information on Pope’s Haunted Farm, please visit them online at popes-farm.com and like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all things Halloween year round.