Double, double toil and trouble: Kentucky’s ‘Haunted Frontier’
by Kathy Witt
By day, Laura Goode is a young mom and mild-mannered photographer at the studio she owns, Laura Leigh Photography.
By night – at least on October nights during the scare-the-pants-off-you Haunted Frontier at Old Fort Harrod State Park in Harrodsburg, KY – she is a creature straight out of the 1977 Wes Craven horror classic, “The Hills Have Eyes” (and completely unrecognizable to her own family and friends) or some other equally ominous character guaranteed to set chills racing down the spine.
Every October, the creative minds behind one of Kentucky’s scariest haunted experiences – including Goode, aka the “Scare Master,” and her partner in crime, David Coleman, park manager at Old Fort Harrod State Park – dare thrill seekers to step through the East Gate and enter the smoky darkness to pick their way through a horror landscape at the fort and surrounding woods. Oh, and the oldest (and possibly creepiest) cemetery in the state is nearby.
Waiting for these brave (or foolhardy) souls?
“A really good scare,” promises Goode.
Fire burn and caldron bubble
A diehard fan (no pun intended) of movies so scary her husband (a veteran of Iraq) won’t even watch them with her, Goode sets out each year to create a fright-fest that will test the mettle of the most stalwart adrenaline junkies.
“A good scare is something so unexpected, and it hits all of your senses,” said Goode. “Not only do you need to see it, you need to feel it – to feel like it’s real.
“I think we do a great job accomplishing this at the Haunted Frontier.”
Inspiration for characters, costumes and haunted vignettes might come from items as mundane as trinkets found at a flea market to something spotted at the fort and, boom, Goode will see the entire scene in her mind.
“A couple years back when we did ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ theme I transformed myself into this hillbilly man,” she said. “We had an amazing nonstop crowd and tons of great compliments. One person even said the area looked like something out of a Rob Zombie movie.”
High praise considering Zombie directed such standard bearers of the horror genre as “House of 1000 Corpses,” “Halloween” (the 2007 movie), “The Devil’s Rejects” and “The Lords of Salem.”
The Haunted Frontier experience is changed up each year, with new themes introduced and old themes presented with new twists. Everything from tour lengths to paths through the fort and woods is altered.
“We want to keep it fresh and exciting for everyone, including all our returning guests,” said Goode.
Plan Your Travels
Haunted Frontier takes place this year on Oct. 26-27 and Oct. 30-31 at Old Fort Harrod State Park. The hours are 7 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Tickets: $7/adults; $4/ages under 12. Old Fort Harrod State Park is located at 100 South College Street in Harrodsburg, KY. 859-734-3314.
NOTE: This haunt is not recommended for children under 10 or the weak-hearted, advice that should be heeded. According to Coleman, people pull out of Haunted Frontier every night before it’s over – usually children who shouldn’t be there anyway. Yes. It’s that scary.
What makes Haunted Frontier so scary? “Our volunteers make it happen,” said Old Fort Harrod State Park manager David Coleman. “People get really into scaring other people so you add that to the spooky outdoor setting – and the characters and costumes created by Scare Master Laura Goode – and it really works.”
Photos: Old Fort Harrod State Park
Photos: Laura Goode
Photo: Kentucky State Parks