There’s a new way to enjoy Halloween in town, and it’s promising a spooky experience like you’ve never seen before!
The Hickory Ridge Museum at Horn in the West will host its inaugural event, The Haunting of Hickory Ridge, on Saturday night, Oct. 29, putting an interesting new twist on your typical Halloween festivities.
The Haunting is one of the first public programs offered at the newly re-imagined museum.
“Previously, it had only been used to augment the show, and now we’re opening the museum April through November and doing it like a traditional living history museum,” said Carson Sailor, the museum’s executive director. “Now, instead of just programming that goes along with Horn in the West, we’re doing programming that is designed to educate people.
“Dave Davis, the director, has been wanting to relaunch it and do it like this for sometime. We just put our heads together to figure out the logistics and make it happen. The board has been super supportive and the museum is going great.”
In accordance with the recent re-launch, the museum team was eager to establish an event for the community that will be exciting, interesting, informative and, this time of year, a little eerie.
“All of us love the holiday, so we wanted to do a Halloween event that was fun, but didn’t stray away from our mission statement,” Sailor said. “You’re going to have fun, you might get spooked a little bit from the stories and all that stuff, but you’re also going to learn a lot about the history and no one’s going to run at you with a chainsaw or anything like that.
“It’s going to be a really neat event to learn about the history of Halloween. Why do we believe these stories? Why do these stories keep carrying on? It’s almost a little bit of a folklore event, as well.”
The hour-long tour will take you around the museum grounds and show the place in a new light.
“You will be led around by a costumed interpreter and it will be like you’re going through Halloween in the 18th century — some of their stories, some of the parties and traditions they would have — and then also learning about how our Halloween was formed by these early colonists, particularly the Scotch-Irish.
“There’s going to be a Daniel Boone character on the hill talking about some of the eerie stuff that he ran into during his time out in the wilderness. We’re going to talk about witchcraft, because witchcraft was certainly a big part of everywhere in the South, but also the mountains, in particular.”
The highlight of the program will feature the Granite Falls Paranormal Investigators and the research they have been conducting on the museum grounds.
“They have been doing a three month long study of our cabins and they’re going to show all of the information about why they are haunted,” said Sailor. “A little bit of a spoiler alert, they are haunted! We do have the evidence, we’re just not showing all of it until you come to the event.”
Guests on the tour will see and hear about the research that’s been conducted at various sites, some of which Sailor and the museum team have experienced first hand.
“The Tatum cabin has seen quite a bit of activity — both male and female apparitions. The Coffey cabin has not seen apparitions, but it has been the most talkative on the voice box. I take my dog Cooper to work with me every day and he does not like to go into one of the cabins,” said Sailor. “The voice box is this little thing that looks like an iPhone, but basically it picks up voices that you don’t hear. We put the voice box in that cabin and it said, ‘Cooper scared.’ That was enough to give me chill bumps!
“Our blacksmith shop has had a few apparitions and a couple of them have been what we believe to be the ghosts of former slaves that were in the cabin. Also, apparently, it spent some time as someone’s garage who liked to fix up motorcycles, so we also have some evidence of some guys who were working on motorcycles there. Then, on the hillside, we have a lot of evidence of Native American indigenous ghosts. There’s been Cherokee chanting heard on the background of the audio and there has been Cherokee language picked up on some of the video. That really does make sense, because not a lot of people lived around here in the 18th century but it was a hunting ground for long hunters as well as the Cherokee Indians moving through the area.”
This event may not be appropriate for children under 16, although museum staff are ready to help parents make the right decision about whether or not it’s appropriate for their children.
“It is going to be a little bit scary, but also it’s a little bit more of a mature topic. No one is going to scare you, it’s not going to be bloody, it’s not going to be a ridiculous Halloween horror nights event, but there are some mature topics talking about people who have died and the information we have come across,” Sailor said. “It’s really up to parents to figure out, but we like to give that as kind of a guiding statement. We are more than happy to talk to parents if they want to call and get more information about what exactly is going to be there to make that decision.”
Hour-long tours will depart every half hour beginning at 7 p.m. with the last tour leaving at midnight. Admission is $10 per person and each tour will include about 20 guests at a time.
Call the museum at 828-264-2120 to make a reservation and pay for your admission at the gate.
Visit hickoryridgemuseum.com for more information.