PROSPECT, Maine — Be afraid — be very afraid.
Just when you thought it was safe to go out after dark, it’s time again for Fright at the Fort. And the Friends of Fort Knox want you to be scared out of your wits when you walk through the dark and gloomy corridors at the fort during the annual scarefest.
The event is now in its 11th year, and according to Friends Executive Director Leon Seymour, it may be the largest and longest-running Halloween event in the state. The event runs for two consecutive weekends beginning this Friday and, for the second year, will collaborate with the daylong Ghostport celebration across the river in Bucksport on Saturday.
“You can come and spend the whole day involved in Halloween activities,” Seymour said.
The Fright event grew out of Seymour’s own love of Halloween and a sense that an event at the fort might help the Friends group financially.
“Every town has a Halloween time for kids, but there are not a lot of events for those who want a good time and a real Halloween fright experience,” he said. “Plus, Halloween is the second-biggest retail period after the holidays. We thought this might be a good opportunity for the Friends to raise funds to support its mission, which is to preserve the fort.”
The idea was a good one that has grown over the years. The largest crowds have totaled about 10,000 people during the four-day event, and Fright generally brings in between $40,000 and $50,000 gross to the Friends’ coffers.
“We take Fright very seriously,” he said.
The event is made possible through the efforts of more than 100 volunteers who set up and perform exhibits including a zombie nursery, a cornfield of aliens, killer clowns and an expansive cemetery with animated corpses.
This Friday will be “crew night.” Any group of four or more people will receive a free pumpkin while the supply lasts.
On Saturday, Ghostport activities throughout the day will set the stage for the evening’s Fright session.
Ghostport began last year as a companion event to tap into the large numbers of people who attend the Fright event.
“Basically, we wanted to capitalize on all the people who go to Fright at the Fort, which is huge,” said Leslie Wombacher, this year’s Ghostport coordinator. “Bucksport’s right across the river. We planned a number of events so if people were coming from farther away — which happens for Fright — they could spend the whole day in Bucksport and then go over to the fort to be scared to death.”
Among the events planned for the daylong celebration are a children’s costume parade, a chili cook-off contest, trebuchet pumpkin chucking into the Penobscot River, the Jonathan Buck Race to the Grave coffin race, a pumpkin carving contest and an evening Monster Mash Acoustic Bash concert featuring John Berlock, In the Audience and Sam & Yuri. The concert is a fundraiser in collaboration with United Cerebral Palsy.
“We wanted this to be a true community event that everyone benefits from,” Wombacher said.
Organizers are encouraging all Ghostport visitors to come in costume. A Ghoul Patrol will review costumes at various events and hand out cash prizes for the best costumes.
“We want everyone in town to be dressed up,” she said.
The Friends also will sponsor a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. Saturday that can be viewed from Bucksport but not the fort. The fireworks will be followed by a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 10 p.m. at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.
Fright at the Fort takes place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 22-23 and 29-30. Admission is $5 or $7 for express-line tickets. For ticket information, call 469-6553.
Details about events at Fright at the Fort and Ghostport are available at the Friends website, fortknox.maineguide.com/fright, or at the Ghostport, ME Facebook page.