by Lorie Lewis Ham
It is Halloween season again and there are so many places in the Valley to go have fun! One of which is Frightmare Farms. We took a moment to chat with one of their owners to learn a bit more about this haunt in Merced. You can also find more fun Halloween things to do in KRL’s Halloween Fun in the Valley article. Also, in each issue this Halloween season you can find Halloween mystery short stories, and other Halloween fun.
KRL: What exactly is Frightmare Farms?
Greg Brown: Frightmare Farms is what we think is the Central Valley’s most terrifying, multiple-attraction haunt.
KRL: What is your name and position with Frightmare?
Greg: My name is Greg Brown and I am one of eight owners of Frightmare Farms.
KRL: When and how did Frightmare first come to be?
Greg: Warren Brown (my Dad and business partner) was a farmer from birth, and always loved the harvest. From as far back as I can remember, my Mom and Dad would invite family [and] friends to the Brown family Pumpkin Carving in October. As my brothers (Dan and Josh) got a bit older, we decided that we would “haunt” the barn that is on the property. We were hooked at 12 years old. Every year after that, we spent more money on props, lighting, and décor with our little barn haunt getting more and more brutal until, in 2009, we had carloads of people showing up the night of the Pumpkin Carving saying that they had heard about our haunted house. In 2010 we opened to the public, and have grown by leaps and bounds, as well as adding two other attractions to our farm.
KRL: Why did you want to be involved in this type of attraction?
Greg: Farming is in our family’s blood. We have an awesome property with some really neat old out-buildings and barns, and because of my Dad’s love for the harvest season and Halloween, we grew up loving the time of year; and we then realized that we had the potential and opportunity to turn a hobby into a legitimate and sustainable business.
KRL: What types of haunted attractions do you have?
Greg: We have three different attractions: Barnyard Slaughter, a super up-close and intense haunted barn walk-through that usually takes around 20 minutes. We designed it to be tight quarters, and although our monsters aren’t allowed to touch our customers, they will be in your “bubble” and love nothing more than to get screams. Frightmare Express: This is our Haunted Hayride through four acres of cornfield, where anything lurking in the dark has the opportunity to hop on the trailer and make you disappear. It’s dark, it’s in a cornfield, and our patrons are sitting ducks. Zombie Raid: You are the last line of defense in the zombie apocalypse. Strap in and go for the ride of your life blasting zombies with turret-mounted paintball guns in the middle of a zombie-infested cornfield from the back of one of our three zombie killing, retrofitted flatbed trucks!
KRL: Do they change from year to year?
Greg: All three attractions absolutely change from year to year. Barnyard Slaughter’s basic layout stays the same, but every year we change up entire rooms and reinvent scares to keep our customers guessing. Frightmare Express and Zombie Raid are both built out in our seven acre cornfield. Depending on how the corn is planted, weather, and our crazy ideas, these two attractions are never the same from year to year. Nature makes us think outside of the box, and never get comfortable with the corn. It’s always an adventure.
KRL: What makes you different from other haunted attractions?
Greg: What makes us different is, we like to think that we are way, way scary. Also, this is a gigantic extension of our Pumpkin Carving. We try to be extremely hospitable and welcoming to our customers because of how we started and how this all came about. We also try to make our midways and general atmosphere into somewhere that you want to stay, hang out, drink cocoa, and enjoy a cool autumn, country evening screaming your head off while being chased with a chainsaw.
KRL: What age group would you recommend attending your attractions?
Greg: We recommend 12 and up, but it’s a pretty individualized thing. We have had six-year-olds go through and not even blink, and grown adults have panic attacks or leave before they even go through a single attraction just because of our midway actors.
KRL: Do you have food for sale as well?
Greg: We have two separate concession areas that serve pizza, nachos, sodas, and waters. We also hand-make caramel apples every night, and my Mom’s (Kelly Brown) hot cocoa recipe is a guarded family secret that people have died trying to get a hold of.
KRL: I noticed that some of your ticket money goes to YoungLife Ministries. Can you tell us what that is and Frightmare’s connection?
Greg: For the last several years, we have sold our discounted ticket packs through Costco stores all up and down the valley. This year, after having several of our employees and church friends work with YoungLife, and finding out a bit more about what they do as an organization, we were super excited to partner with them so that they could be a part of Frightmare Farms, and use the money raised for community outreach to help fund kids who don’t have the financial ability to go to camp, as well as other YoungLife sponsored events.
KRL: Where are you located?
Greg: We are located at 3793 South Plainsburg Road, in Merced, California, just a few short miles off the Highway 99.
KRL: What dates and times are you open?
Greg: We are open October 1, 7, 8, 14-16, 20-23, 27-31.
KRL: How much does it cost and where do people purchase tickets?
Greg: Tickets for Barnyard Slaughter and Frightmare Express are $12.50. They can be purchased on our website or purchased at the ticket booth on any of our operational nights. Zombie Raid is $25 and we only sell 500 tickets maximum per night, and is first come, first served; it’s [suggestion] available only at the ticket booths on nights of operation. You can get all of our information at www.FrightmareFarms.com.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Greg: We are just a small farming family that loves what we do, and love the time that it affords us to spend together. We get to grow a business together and it’s something that we all enjoy and have a great time doing; we hope that our customers get that vibe as soon as they step foot onto our farm.