History of the Halloween Fest


The Halloween Fest is a yearly event that is sponsored by Big Rock, Hinckley and Sugar Grove.  The event is located at Plowman’s Park in Big Rock, Illinois.

 The Halloween Fest began in 1989 as only a small Haunted House.  The first Haunted House was built by the Franks Family in the old elementary school in Sugar Grove as a project under the Parks Committee.  The Girl Scouts hosted a party in the gym and Gene and Colleen Franks volunteered to build a haunted house in one of the classrooms.  Their first attempt involved walls built from cardboard and plastic.  The props and costumes were very simplistic.  Even though it was primitive, everyone seemed to enjoy going through it.  The Franks Family found that they enjoyed putting it together. This was the beginning of a family commitment to build a haunted house every year for the community to enjoy.  

 Over the years the Haunted House quickly attracted many of people and has outgrown some of its locations.  The Halloween Fest currently has been held at Plowman’s Park since 2001.   

 The Haunted House is now built within one of the buildings at Plowman’s Park.  The end product is a structure about 28 feet by 50 feet, but once you have gone through it you would believe it to be much bigger.  The structure consists of over 200 sheets of plywood and more than 2000 screws.  It takes months of planning, 5 weeks to build and it’s open for only 1 night, during the Halloween Fest.  It takes over 300 man hours to build and is built by the Franks family members and some very dear friends. Then it takes 1 day to dismantle and several weeks to haul the wood and props to a storage location.

 The props have come a long way too.  Air lifts and many commercial props are now used throughout.  Gene and Colleen find it fun to design and build their own props. The haunted house consists of about 7 rooms and several displays all connected by narrow 2 foot wide twisting hallways.  Every room has a theme, sound effects, and unique characters.  The floor plan, characters and themes change every year. 

 The intent of the Haunted House is to scare by surprise and there are many opportunities for surprise.  No one will hurt you and we ask that no one hurt us.  There are more than 15 friends and family members who assist in the haunted house the night of the Halloween Fest. The family involvement now includes 3 generations; some of the grandchildren now play parts.

 In 2006, the Franks Family decided that the haunted house had become pretty intense for the younger children so they added a Kiddie Haunted House which is located in a separate building.   This consists primarily of non-threatening interactive props and is great fun for all ages.

 As the event has grown over the years, so has the activities and entertainment.  There is something for everyone to enjoy.  In addition to the two haunted houses, there are stage shows, clowns, face painting, magicians, haunted hayrides and games for young and older children.  Children can make their own scarecrows and a craft to take home.  There is a bonfire, a costume parade, and a pumpkin carving contest.  Child ID services are also available at no charge.  We also provide dinners, baked goods and raffle tickets for a minimal cost.

 The Halloween Fest brings in approximately 3000 people every year.  The Fest is free and is run strictly by volunteers and donations.  Local schools, community groups and businesses all get involved.  The main goal of the Fest is to provide a safe and fun filled family event.  A night when a family can have fun together and when all who attends, regardless of their age, can be kids again.  We invite you and your family and friends to come enjoy the Halloween Fest.

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