When fall arrives in Cowley County, there is no shortage of fun things to do. After the bluegrass festival in Winfield, get ready for the  Last Run Car Show, Art in the Park, Arkalalah, and then it’s time for Halloween. 

I’m more of a classic rock fan, and cars don’t really excite me. But I do admire the talents of the bluegrass musicians and the amazing skill of auto mechanics. My favorite part of both events is seeing them through my son’s eyes.  As a guitar player himself, he loves the music, and he can tell you more than you want to know about vintage cars. 

I enjoy Arkalalah. I don’t go to very many events because I don’t like large crowds. But I do enjoy watching our community gather to enjoy the festival.

But there is one event I could live without — Halloween. 

As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays, second only to Christmas. What other time of the year can you legally plunder an entire community and haul away a huge sack of candy? Dressing up in costumes, going to parties, trick-or-treat; it’s a fun holiday.

But now that I am an adult it seems to have lost most of its charm. Trick-or-treaters seldom visit our street, and with the ever-increasing cost of candy, that’s probably just as well. 

Halloween has changed. It’s not like the old days when going door-to-door felt safe, and people could pass out homemade treats. Trust me, the cookies, candy and other things lovingly made by grandmothers, were better than any of the candy being passed out today.

One of my worst Halloween experiences was a visit to a haunted house attraction. It was a fundraiser put on by a church group, and several of my friends finally convinced me to go through it with them. 

I still regret that visit.

I don’t like horror movies, and I don’t like having things jump out at me. As I stumbled through the darkness, there were witches screaming at me, skeletons falling on me and other scary effects I would have been happy to do without. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, suddenly a masked person with a running chainsaw started chasing me. I found out later that the saw didn’t have a blade on it, but that was more excitement than I wanted to deal with. After that experience, I just wanted out of there. But there was no turning back. All I could do was press on toward the unknown horrors ahead.

My journey into terror soon brought me to a dark, gloomy room with a small-suspended footbridge. The bridge spanned a pit that was full of strange and spooky things, with a dense fog rising from its eerie depths. I started across the swaying bridge holding tightly to the handrail, which seemed to be made of some sort of wire. 

I soon found out why.

I was half way across the bridge, when something let out a loud screech. That something was me. The handrail was hooked up to a fence charger, and someone had sent an electric charge down the railing that I was clinging to.

Now I really wanted out of there.

I went through areas where the floor suddenly dropped out from under me, ghosts and vampires came after me, and the devil and a bunch of demons tried to drag me away to who knows where.

I was never so glad to see an exit sign in my life.

I know that all of these things were harmless, except perhaps the electric shock. But being terrified is not my idea of fun and I really don’t enjoy being electrocuted. 

One Halloween I was invited to visit a corn maze. That seemed harmless enough. The maze was out in the country and covered a large field. My friends wanted to go at night, because they said it would be even more fun.

Looking back, I probably should have known better.

After being given a map, we set out to find our way through the maze. It was fun at first, but then we got lost. It grew darker and darker and no matter how much we studied that map, we could not make sense out of it. We didn’t even know what direction we were facing or how to correctly orient the map.

We came to dead end after dead end, and we seemed to be going in circles. We studied that map over and over, but nothing made sense. We were growing frustrated and tempers began to flair. 

Like the haunted house, this was supposed to be fun. I had a sinking feeling that we would be spending the night in that cornfield.  I might end up spending the night there, but there was no way I would be sleeping.

Suddenly, we found the exit.

I have been through one haunted house and one cornfield maze, and that is enough for me. My idea of a perfect Halloween is to sit at home with a bunch of homemade treats and watch a few funny Halloween shows on TV. 

There is one thing I do like about Halloween; once it’s over I can start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. My son, my wife and I will start decking the halls to get ready for a visit from Santa, his wife and head elf Ebenezer Sugarcane.

I’ll take a visit from Santa and his crew over a visit from a witch or vampire any day, even if I don’t get a big sack of candy. 

Have a happy and safe Halloween.


CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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