If you’re looking for something unique to do this Halloween, Au Jardins d’Houblon in Hemmingford is opening a spooky haunted site. This is not your usual haunted house; it features over 25 different scenes to walk through, with enough decorations and characters to ensure no two people will have the same experience. The site opens October 7 and runs each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until October 30. It is the second year for this gathering of spooks, though now it is much larger.
Johanne Lafond is the creator of the site. She says she has always been passionate about Halloween, and that she “loves what we can do with our imagination. You have to see it to believe it.” This site is unique for many reasons, but one of the main ones is the animatronic characters. Most haunted houses feature people dressed up as spooky characters, and while Lafond does have about a dozen friends and family members dressed in scary costumes, she also has many animatronic characters to add to the thrills and chills. Though some were there last year, this time she says she has almost tripled the number of these animatronic creatures.
The ambassador for the event, Luc Senay, says that they are expecting a big turnout. “In [the] first year, Johanne thought maybe 120 people would come see it – and then over 4000 people came!” He explains that when people arrive, they will be guided towards a castle where they can explore the different scenes and characters. He also adds that this year’s site will be accessible to people with limited mobility; folks who are in a wheelchair won’t have any issues participating.
Lafond emphasizes that the event is truly for all ages, and that the scare-level isn’t over the top. “I want to mention that it’s not horrifying. Yes, it’s Halloween, and we do jump–scares, but it’s not horror.” She describes it as a “kind of decor that they won’t be used to.” Senay adds that “We’re closer to giving goosebumps, than to horror that causes nightmares.”
Senay mentions that in the Valley it can be difficult to have a “classic” Halloween. “It’s harder to have a good Halloween here; in a residential area you can go door–to–door, but in the country,with the distance between properties, it is harder.” He highlights just how special Lafond’s event is, and how many details she has put into it. “You can leave, then come back and see it again, and you’ll find something new. Every detail down to the spider webs has been thought about. It’s really fantastic.” He adds that Lafond is a perfectionist, and that “Sometimes if there’s something she doesn’t like, she’ll completely take a room down and try it again.” The fact that the site focuses on both the audio and visual components creates a rare experience.
The site is open from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The event is free for children aged five and under; $10 for youth aged 6 to 17; and $20 for 18 and up. The address is 622 Montée Giroux, Hemmingford.For more information and to reserve tickets, call 438-995-3606. I