Tame To Terrifying

Tame To Terrifying

Tonight’s the big night for candy, chills



Northwest Arkansas is rich with Halloween events all through the month of October — but sometimes it can be tricky to find things to do on the actual day of the holiday. We’ve put together a list of options — from tame to terrifying — for those looking for frightful (and delightful) ways to celebrate on Oct. 31.


There many reasons why the tradition of going door-to-door to fill candy sacks might not be in the cards for you and your family. If weather or accessibility keep you from neighborhood trick or treating, there are lots of other options — like trick or treating on the Fayetteville square, which has been a tradition for 18 years.

“This is an opportunity for merchants on the Fayetteville historic square, city partners like Fayetteville Police Department, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation and some of Fayetteville’s public institutions like the public library to connect with their community in a celebratory way by handing out candy on the early evening of Halloween, from 4-6 p.m.,” says Dacre Whitaker, director of community engagement for Experience Fayetteville, which organizes the event. She says estimates place crowd size between 2,000 and 5,000.

“There’s a strong sense of community, and it gives people an opportunity to visit the square and engage with local businesses and the various city departments,” says Hazel Hernandez, vice president of sales and marketing at Experience Fayetteville.

Farther north in Rogers, the Goblin Parade (3:30-5 p.m. Oct. 31) continues its popular tradition of offering kids the opportunity to trick or treat around downtown Rogers. Dom Smith, executive director of the merchant organization Go Downtown Rogers, estimates the tradition has been around for nearly three decades — and long enough for Smith to remember taking part when he was a child.

“I went as a caterpillar one year,” reminisces Smith. “It’s exciting to be an adult and be on the other side of it — organizing the efforts to have candy for kids trick or treating.”

Smith sees several community benefits stemming from the event.

“From a merchant’s standpoint, it’s a great opportunity to get involved and give back to the community that supports us all year round, as well as an opportunity to showcase our businesses,” he says. “From a more giving standpoint, it’s a safety thing — kids are able to come down at 3:30 p.m. and do the Goblin Parade before it gets cold and dark, and if older kids want to continue trick or treating, they can do that; if younger kids are ready for bed, they’ve had their chance to have their Halloween fun as well.”

Smith says that, between kids and adults, he expects the crowd size to be around 3,000 people.

“It’s a big deal,” he says.

Need more ideas for activities? There are plenty to choose from!

Trunk or Treat

Food, inside fun and lots and lots of candy.

New Life Christian Church

103 Riordan Road, Bella Vista

6-8 p.m. Oct. 31

Halloween at the 8th St. Market

Marketwide trick or treating, indoors and out, pumpkin decorating, a spooky hallway and lawn games. Appropriate for all kids.

801 SE Eighth St., Bentonville

4-8 p.m. Oct. 31

Trunk or Treat

Join FUMC for a night of trick or treating, games and more. Families of all ages are welcome to explore decorated rooms and halls.

First United Methodist Church

201 NW Second St., Bentonville

5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 31

Howl-o-Ween Contest

Bring a can of cat or dog food to enter the costume contest for pets and children. Prizes awarded for most SPOOKtacular and best-dressed dog.

Good Shepherd Humane Society

6486 U.S. 62 West, Eureka Springs

5-7 p.m. Oct. 31


The Be(A)ware Halloween event is the first and only allergy-friendly event in Northwest Arkansas. The goal is to create a fun, inclusive and safe place for all kids — food allergic and non-allergic — while spreading awareness of food allergies and raising money to help fund research. One hundred percent of profits will go toward The Food Allergy Fund.

Big Box Karaoke

115 N. Block Ave., Fayetteville

3-6 p.m. Oct. 31

Trunk or Treat

A fun and safe family fun night that includes trunk or treating, games, food, coffee and hot chocolate, and much more.

The Vineyard Life

3980 W. Wedington Dr., Suite 15, Fayetteville

6-8 p.m. Oct. 31

Indoor Trick or Treat Adventure

Trick-or-Treat through Gravity Falls, Halloween Town and Candy Land, with themed photo spots, games and making friends with mermaids and pirates to make your quest for a big bag of candy even more fun for the whole family. Bring one canned good to benefit Cooperative Emergency Outreach of Washington County.

Rolling Hills Baptist Church

1400 Rolling Hills Drive, Fayetteville

6-8 p.m. Oct. 31

Trick or Treat at the Gravette Fire Station

Kids can see emergency vehicles and meet local police officers and fire fighters. There will be hot dogs, games, inflatables and candy.

604 First Ave. SE, Gravette

6-9 p.m. Oct. 31

Fall Carnival

Carnival games, candy, music and lots of fun.

The Pentecostals of Northwest Arkansas

200 S. 13th St., Rogers

6-8 p.m. Oct. 31


What we know now as the modern-day holiday of Halloween is a centuries old mishmash of both pagan and Christian traditions, but the one thing those ancient traditions have in common is their link to the dead — that’s one reason the holiday has mutated over the years to become a season in which we try, really hard, to scare the bejesus out of each other.

“Experiencing simulated danger (in small doses) has always been thrilling to most people,” says Charlie Bookout, the owner and creator of Gentry’s Carpenter’s Mortuary Spook House of the practice we have on Halloween of paying people to try and terrorize us in the scariest way possible. “We love to pretend we’re in a bad situation. It’s why we ride roller coasters. The primitive part of our brains senses danger, but the critical thinking part of our brains takes pleasure in knowing better — knowing that, in reality, we’re safe. We suspend our disbelief when we watch horror movies. It’s the same with haunted houses.”

Bookout and his scary/merry band of artists found themselves operating one of Northwest Arkansas’ scariest haunted houses by accident. As a band, they practiced in the old Gentry mortuary starting back in the 1990s, and they always decorated and handed out candy on Halloween.

“Each year, our decorations would become more elaborate,” says Bookout. “And before we knew it, we had inadvertently built a haunted house. As often happens, the thing took on a life of its own and evolved into what it is today.”

And what it is today is a multi-room haunted house heavily linked to its creative — and terrifyingly morbid — back story.

“Haunted attraction scenes are a matter of taste, really,” notes Bookout. “For me, it needs to have a balance between scare and environment. If it terrifies the visitors while also helping tell the Carpenter’s Mortuary story, it’s a good scene.”

It’s obvious that the biggest fun Bookout and his team have is coming up with scary scenarios that elicit the exact right amount of screams — Bookout says clowns are about the closest to a sure thing there is in the Haunted House business — but they do, occasionally, hit on a scare that turns out to be too, too much.

“One year, we started the haunt with a long, pitch-black hallway,” remembers Bookout. “The moment the visitors entered, a brief light at the end of the hall would illuminate a terrifying actor that the guests would then have to move toward in total darkness. Each night, several groups would come back out the entrance, saying they just couldn’t do it. We took that gag out the following year.”

Speaking of the “terrifying actors” that staff the Mortuary each year: it’s not an easy job, says Bookout.

“It takes a very special kind of person to work in a haunted attraction,” he says. “It’s loud, it’s dark, it’s hot, it’s scary, you go home every night dirty and covered in blood (usually fake blood). It’s like working in a coal mine, only you scream a lot, and people tend to curse at you. I’m very fortunate, though. I’ve got a bunch of those very special people who can’t wait to come back every year.”

Bookout adds that fear doesn’t always bring out the best in folks.

“Everyone has a unique way of coping with fear,” he says. “Good guests laugh and scream. Bad ones try to impress their buddies by making snarky and sometimes derogatory comments to try to rattle the actors. Really bad ones become physically violent. This is rare, but our actors are trained in methods to minimize it and what to do if it occurs. People who behave that way should know better than to attend. Period.”

And, as the Mortuary Studios website points out, security is always on site — and the mortuary just happens to be next door to the Gentry Police Department.

Carpenter’s Mortuary Spook House will be open on Halloween night and Nov. 1-2 from 7-11 p.m.

Other Haunted Houses in the area include:

Banshee Manor

The McCraulic Clan is notorious for being ruthless, barbaric and pure evil. Rarely would anyone enter the manor’s walls without being brutalized, tortured or murdered, often for sport more than for punishment of perceived crimes. The Banshee’s constant screams and cries often shattered the silence of the night, foretelling of yet another death, and as she mournfully shepherded the poor soul to the other side. The Banshee grew weary of the McCraulics and their evil ways and all the death. Oh, so much death. The Banshee decided to punish the McCraulics and tortured them with her constant keening, driving them mad. And as her final punishment, she no longer led their souls to their final resting place, instead, imprisoning them with their victims inside.

4520 N. College Ave., Fayetteville

7-11 p.m. Oct. 31

Nightmares Haunted House

2019 Theme: Freak show meets Old West in a toxic wasteland.

Nightmares Haunted House is an intense, high energy haunted attraction that uses the latest technology available. Its creators are volunteers that have been defining the nightmares of the citizens in Northwest Arkansas since 1987. The proceeds from the Haunted House go to the Bentonville Breakfast Lions Club, which then donates the money back into the community.

3706 NW Frontage Road, Bentonville

Dusk until 11 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 2

The Asylum Haunted House

The Asylum Haunted House is bigger than ever before with approximately 6,500 square feet of pure scare. This haunt is all indoors.

210 N. Main St., Cave Springs

7 p.m.-12 a.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 2

The Expelled

At over 10,000 square feet, and located in an abandoned slaughterhouse, The Expelled Haunted Attraction is one the most terrifying haunts in Arkansas. With more than 45 live actors closely watching your every step, more than 25 horrifically detailed spaces, and a jump at every corner, this haunt brings new levels of fear to patrons every season. Its creators want to leave you trembling with fear, screaming in terror, and running for your very survival as you make your way through the creepy halls of the slaughter house.

29555 Arkansas 23, Huntsville

7-10 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 2

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