News

Haunted house master brings a scare to Buckley

By Jessica Keller

The Courier-Herald

The Plateau is getting an old-fashioned haunted house this month as Dennis Wink brings his Fright Factory to Buckley.

Beginning Friday, people will be able to tour the haunted house at the old Miller property, 400 A Street, right before Spiketon Road, to receive chills and thrills.

"This is what I do for fun," the Buckley resident said. "It's just a chance to be creative."

For Wink,who has been building haunted houses the past eight years, the last three at the Supermall in Auburn, Halloween is his favorite time of year.

"Ever since I was little I used to dress up in blood and gore," he said, adding the appeal was the chance to be something he normally wouldn't.

Now that he's an adult, Wink takes that creativity and excitement and turns it into a fun, scary experience for kids of all ages.

"I think people have forgotten about Halloween," Wink said.

Not only is building haunted houses a great way to bring the thrill back into Halloween, it is also a great way to raise money for different organizations, Wink said.

Every year Wink contributes a portion of the profits to a nonprofit organization. As part of the agreement with the city, Buckley's Youth Activity Center will be that nonprofit organization.

Because they are the recipients, YAC director Larissa Tucey and a few of the teens who attend have been helping with the production. Seniors from White River High School, interested in completing their community service requirements for graduation, also signed on to help.

In the past, Wink has donated proceeds to such organizations as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Wink is glad he's donating to a local organization because he said he is tired of corporate charities.

"I want to make what I've done and keep it at home, keep it in my corner," he said.

When Wink was exploring his options for a haunted house closer to home, he stumbled across the Miller property and decided it was the perfect location.

"I think this is the first time a haunted house has been produced in a house in about 20 years," he said.

And that was part of the attraction. Wink said many people, including himself, remember going to haunted houses in actual houses when they were kids and have good memories of the scares they received there. The appeal of haunted houses, he maintains is the thrill of being scared and excited, with people never knowing what to expect.

"The thing that scares me the most about any haunted house is the unexpected scare," he said, adding people can expect many of them at the haunted house this year."I think it'll be pretty scary."

He said bringing the haunted house into an actual house gives people a more realistic scary experience than just a tent or a room somewhere, like he's done in the past. And Wink expects this haunted house to be just as good, if not better, than the other haunted houses he has created.

"Every haunted house I've ever produced has never been the same," he said.

What he enjoys about building haunted houses is the thrill of scaring people and the challenge of building something that nobody has ever seen before.

Wink said he is constantly thinking about new ideas for his haunted houses, although his haunted houses never have themes. When he builds a haunted house, he and his crew - usually friends and coworkers - build in stages, starting with the location. He takes the measurements of the structure and floor plan and works off of that. Many of Wink's props are handmade - many built in his work shop. As he comes up with ideas and props, he tests them. All the actors are friends of Winks' or people who contributed with the project.

"Pretty much each room is going to have it's own atmosphere," Wink said, adding Buckley's haunted house has a little bit of everything this year.

For most of the haunted house performances, parking will be at the Glacier Middle School parking lot, located on C Street, just off of Main Street, and the lot on the other side of the school. In addition to the haunted house fun, as part of the experience, people can take a free Fright Factory Wagon of Doom Hayride, from Glacier Middle School to the haunted house. For the two Friday nights high school football games are going on at Sheets Field, alternate parking signs will be posted.

Haunted house times are: from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturdays beginning Friday; from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Oct. 14; from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27; and from 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 31. There will also be special children's matinee shows from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturdays beginning Oct. 16, and another matinee show from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 31. Admission prices are $7 for general admission and $6 for matinee shows. People can go to the Fright Factory Web site at www.frightfactory.net for a $1 off coupon, or attendants can bring a canned food donation for the local food bank to receive $1 off the admission price.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com.

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