Village of Terror
the Valley hasn’t seen anything this massive for Halloween
Some of the most respected haunted house critics say if you want to truly experience a place, you have to go on the first and last nights. The idea being that actors are more into it early on, but operations aren’t as smooth, while the reverse happens by the end. Well a few of us over at V1 were excited and checked out the Village of Terror on Oct. 14, and even though we aren’t going to need to for a critical review, we very well might be back on Halloween.
As we pulled into the parking lot at the Renaissance Faire grounds in Chippewa, we were immediately taken by the spectacle of the event, as giant glowing pumpkin posts lighted the way and a spotlight traversed the sky. It was already clear that the Chippewa Valley hasn’t experienced anything of this magnitude for Halloween.
We got there a little before 7pm, when the grounds and activities are skewed to youngsters. I ran into a young family around 8:30pm, who said they’d been there four hours and still hadn’t done everything. It’s not hard to believe, with about a dozen carnival rides and at least that many mini haunted attractions that most brave youths could handle.
By “the witching hour,” the attractions reflected the skyline and grow dark. We were first drawn to the Sideshow Stage, where the comically charismatic Manolete displayed an impressive pyrotechnics show. He shared the stage on a rotating basis with Wyck, a freak show stuntist working with nails, broken glass, animal traps, and fire. These shows certainly had some adult humor not suitable for kids, but Wyck put it best. “My act is designed to go over your kids’ heads. If they get it, it must be your fault.”
The vendors and refreshment stands are similar to the Ren Faire, but the fortunetellers (tarot and palm) and spellcasters seem a better fit in this setting. The two spots to get beer had some fun entertainers (magicians, a snake dancer), but none better than The Polka Band From Hell, an awesome four-piece group with a Tom Waits sound that made me wonder if Eau Claire’s Dead Dogs were acting the part. The Dreamland Dance Hall is the main place to be for music, with an incredible sound and light/projection show, a dance floor, and a great stage setup for bands (local and in-house) and the Thriller dance.