Haunted Palouse delivers on spooks

Popular scare fair terrifies guests of all ages through gruesome makeup, different levels of emotional fear



Volunteers at City of Palouse’s Haunted Palouse stagger around in the dimly lit streets of Palouse in 2018.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

The City of Palouse and the Palouse Chamber of Commerce held their opening nights of Haunted Palouse this weekend, using “scare-engineering” techniques to terrify all ages.

“There are so many geniuses who are a part of this and make it so different and amazing year after year,” said Diane Cooper, Haunted Palouse volunteer since its beginning in 2002.

Something always terrifying is a small, rural town at night. With a population of approximately 1,000, Palouse fits this category. Simply driving into the town in the dark, and knowing the scares ahead, was chilling.

The town was decorated in orange lights and creepy cobwebs, and volunteers dressed as zombies filled the streets to entertain patrons waiting in line. The outside decorations were cute and the makeup was far from professional, but the effort was clear. First-time patrons would be sorely mistaken if they assumed the cutesy decor matched the insides of the haunted houses and the hayride.

Volunteers decorated Palouse’s welcome sign for the Haunted Palouse opening night.

The “mild” attraction was the haunted hayride, according to Janet Barstow, head coordinator of Haunted Palouse. However, the hayride had the unsuspecting participants screaming and crying out profanities from start to finish.

It was a combination of all kinds of scary. Attendees clambered into trailers and flew into a wooded area where scares awaited. Masked men with chainsaws got into the patrons’ faces, chilling them to their cores. Children participated in the haunted hayride by wearing creepy makeup, playing traditional children’s hand games and chasing the trailers.

Actors jumped out on all sides and nobody was able to relax for even a moment.

“The haunted hay ride is my favorite part of all of Haunted Palouse,” said Gesa Lynn, Clarkston High School sophomore. “The year I turned 13, I insisted we go because I’d heard so much about it.”

The “intermediate” level attraction was the haunted house held at the Roy M. Chatters Newspaper and Printing Museum. The museum haunted house was full of professional props and effects that gave it a real-life scary feel.

The moment patrons walked in they were instructed to sit. The feeling of being trapped was immediate as two terrifying men spoke about the treat they were in for. The chairs then rotated participants into another room where more scares awaited. The goal of the chair trick, Barstow said, was to split couples up at the start of the house to add another level of terror.

Strobe lights, wobbly floors and body bags psychologically horrified those brave enough to make it through the museum. Screams could be heard from outside as clowns and murderers jumped out from behind corners. The jump scares, however, were not what made the museum so terrifying. Rather, it was the possible reality of the scares.

Most patrons left the final house shaking and a few even crying. Unearthly Creatures, held in the Old City Fire Station, scared participants with demons, aliens and actors dying from toxic waste.

Attendees walked from room to room, opening doors as they went along. Each new room provided a new horror, and a new round of “Oh no, there’s more.”

At the end, Cooper and her partner in crime Patti Green-Kent tried to keep the already-terrified from leaving. Green-Kent would insist “they” were outside, while Cooper would hold the door shut and taunt, “Are you sure you want to go outside? It’s much more fun in here, I have candy!”

“One thing we learned really quickly at the start is a lot of people in this town are really sick,” Cooper said, “and I’m definitely one of the sickest.”

Haunted Palouse volunteers joked that their success is based upon how many people cry and if anyone pees their pants, said Mike Milano, member of the Palouse Chamber of Commerce.

“A few years ago we had a group of football players come through and we managed to literally scare the p-ss out of the biggest one,” Cooper said.

Haunted Palouse is clearly not for the faint of heart. For those brave enough, it will continue at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the town of Palouse. Tickets are $20, cash only, for three tickets and will be sold night-of from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Palouse branch of Banner Bank. Admission is only open to ages 12 and up with no exceptions due to the mature nature of the festival.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the volunteer that has been working at the Haunted Palouse since 2002.