We had a chance to catch up with a couple veteran haunters, at their newest attraction, 13th Hour Rising, a hayride in Fulton, NY. Meet the owners Hauntreprenial Productions. Terri Eggert and Fred Mellini. Terrie and Fred helped create the Screamer's Hollow Hayride in Sterling, NY, that was voted "Best Haunted Hayride" by our secret shoppers in 2013, Terri and Fred are no strangers to scares.
How did you first get in the business of scaring people?
Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I became a home haunter when I was young, back in the 80s. It was a free thing as my house my father helped me, I built caskets and dummies, my nephews and nieces would hide and scare people, my mother would bake cookies, it was great. It became huge to where cars would be wrapped around the block, and the newspaper came and did a front page story about me in the Sunday paper. That news story lead to my being hired at Chengerians as a Director for what would become " Chengerians At Halloween". I ran there for 13 years with two live events until we closed in 2006. I was then hired as the Creative Director for" Screamers Hollow' - in Sterling NY, for 7 years until this spring ( 2014) where Myself and Fred Mellini -fiance and business partner, were approached to become Co / Owners By Chengerians at a brand new Location...."13TH HOUR RISING" - HAYRIDES! Our vision is to grow this event into a long term location and a multi level event!!
I started many years ago with a home haunt in Seneca Falls. We had a 60x40 tent in the front yard animatronics and lots of scares. We'd get like 400 people on Halloween night and the news came, newspapers etc brought attention to it, and I was approached by the owner of the now closed Seneca Falls church, who asked if we wanted to do a haunt there, to benefit the Cancer Patients of the Fingerlakes. We had a successful haunt there for 7 years, known as The Seneca Falls Haunted House. Having then retired from the police department, I was hired by Screamers Hollow in Sterling NY as the art Director. That later evolved into a Directors position aside Terrie Eggert, that ran for 7 years. I left there in the spring of 2014 to pursue co-ownership.
This is a Christmas Tree Farm, seems like a great use of this land for fall time, how did this come about?
Terri: That newspaper article way back that I mentioned, attracted the attention of Bob Chengerian, the owner of this tree farm. He contacted me and expressed interest in working together to so a Halloween event on his property. In 1993 we launched the first hayrides here.
How will this hayride differ from the one you produced last year?
Everything about this Haunted Hayride is new and Different!! We have a themed back story, In house custom props, animation, special effects and pyro, which make this ride, Creepy, Edgy and Scary!! Chengerians name has a fantastic reputation with 40 years of Business this year and a ticket price that's affordable to everyone.
I'm seeing a lot of different scenes, far from just a hayride through the woods, can you tell me about some of what's gone into this?
We physically built around 13 structures from scratch, all kinds of scenes created with specific scares in mind. From floating stages to the tunnel we're standing in. There will be animatronics, special effects, pyrotechnics etc.
Some of these scenes look so weathered and spooky already, where did most of the materials come from? The majority is recycled. This one was built from a barn that had collapsed and was blocking a mans driveway. We stopped and asked, and he was happy to have us take it down. We painted and detailed them of course. Other materials like new lumber, came from sponsors and donations.
Tell me about the props, I'm seeing a lot of creativity here, not a lot of the same things I could buy at stores...
Most everything is custom made. Most of the monsters are custom and created from repurposed materials anywhere we could.
The nice thing about a hayride is, people on both sides of a wagon have a different scare, how many people fit on the wagon?
Our wagons will have a capacity of over 80 people! We'll have multiple wagons as well, to keep wait time to a minimum. The main barn will be open with concessions as well. We also have plans for expansion next year with an indoor haunt as well.
An indoor haunt is a great addition. Do you have any concerns about weather?
If the weather is forecast to be really bad, we'll announce cancellations or delays as early as possible on our web site, or people can call us at 315-678-2046.
It's great to see a couple true enthusiasts bring their vision to reality. Thanks for sharing!