GROTTOES — Working at night at Middle River Farms outside of Grottoes, Michelle Martin sometimes gets an “eerie” vibe.
Though admittedly hard to scare, Martin says there’s something seemingly sinister about standing in an open field. At night. Alone.
“You know nothing’s going to happen, [but] still you get that eerie feeling,” said Martin, who is passing that feeling along to scare seekers this Halloween season through a new haunted attraction called Banshee Fields.
Throughout the year, Middle River boasts beef cattle, corn, straw bales and seasonally hosts strawberry and pumpkin picking. Through Nov. 2, the farm just outside of Grottoes will also play home to a heart-racing tour complete with costume-clad actors, a host of audio and lighting effects and a dimly lit corn maze.
“We already have people here for fall because we operate the pumpkin patch; this was an added benefit,” she said. “You’re playing into people’s fear of the dark and fields and the outdoors at night. We’re not about the gore — we’re about the old-fashioned scare.”
The location itself has a formidable background. More than 150 years ago, thousands of soldiers lived — and some likely died — on the land surrounding Middle River Farms in 1862. That’s when Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his army of 15,000 men rested following weeks of marching and fighting during Jackson’s famed “Valley Campaign.”
“The camp sat all along in here,” Martin said.
Martin’s son, Jesse Martin, has embellished the land’s history on the Banshee Fields website to make it more hair raising, adding in tidbits about sickened soldiers and banshee sightings, hence the attraction’s name.
Putting Banshee Fields together has been “a family affair” said Michelle Martin, who has gotten the fields up and running with help from family members, especially from Jesse and his wife Paula.
Jesse came up with the idea for the haunted attraction a couple of years ago.
“Finally this year, we said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” Michelle Martin said. “We wanted to have fun.”
If You Dare
For more information, visit www.bansheefields.com. The fields opened the first weekend in October and will be open every Friday and Saturday through Nov. 2. Banshee Fields is also open on Halloween. Tickets are $10 at the gate.
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org