For its 19th year, the organizers of the Fright at the Fort Halloween experience at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect are fulfilling a dream former Friends of Fort Knox director Leon Seymour had for many years: to host a Stephen King-themed Fright.
Seymour died suddenly in May, leaving a leadership void just as preparations for the annual event began to ramp up.
The Friends of Fort Knox board quickly sought a new director to fill that void and late this summer chose Dean Martin, a Maine native and 24-year military veteran, who started the job Sept. 1.
Martin, who retired from the military last year and moved to Orland with his family, knows he has big shoes to fill when it comes to the Fright at the Fort, which was originally Seymour’s idea, and which he planned every year since its inception.
“This was Leon’s baby, and it was his dream to do a Stephen King theme,” Martin said. “This was the year that it was going to happen. He even reached out to Stephen King himself to get permission, before he died. So we know it is really, really important to make this even bigger and better than ever, in Leon’s memory.”
This year’s Fright at the Fort will feature 12 “rooms” throughout the fort, each with a different Stephen King theme, ranging from “Misery” and “The Shining” to “Pet Sematary” and, of course, “IT.”
“Clowns are always at every Fright, but now, with ‘IT’ being so popular, we’re going to have a special Pennywise clown on site,” Martin said. “We always try to have it be an immersive experience, so the experience starts right at the line to get in, where we’ll have a ‘Christine’ style car and a ‘Maximum Overdrive’ style truck.”
WKIT-FM, the radio station owned by Stephen King, will co-sponsor the event, which is recommended for ages 12 and up, as it can often be really, truly scary. A team of more than 100 volunteers each year brings costumes, makeup, props and sets to create a memorable, DIY Halloween experience, proceeds from which comprise a large percentage of the Friends of the Fort Knox yearly budget.
The star of the show, however, is the fort itself, which is a creepy place at night no matter what time of year you’re there — let alone around Halloween.
Fright at the Fort: King of Horror starts Saturday, Oct. 13, and runs Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 27, open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets ($13 for adults, $7 for children) are available via EventBrite or on the Fright at the Fort Facebook page. There is also a ghost tour of Fort Knox set for 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct 6; tickets for that are $20 and are available by calling 207-469-6553.
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