Haunted Palouse hosts reflect on last 18 years

Volunteers prepare for spooky season with hayride, fortune teller



Board President Paula Echanove and Co-chair Janet Barstow pose in front of their unfinished haunted house Tuesday night in the Palouse. “We know exactly what we need,” Echanove said.

RACHEL KOCH, Evergreen reporter

After 18 years of dedicating their time to serving their community through a haunted attraction, Janet Barstow and Paula Echanove will run Haunted Palouse for their last time.

Nicole Flansburg and Alexa Becket-Bonner, Palouse residents and longtime volunteers, will take over starting next year, Echanove said.

Becket-Bonner originally became involved in the event to celebrate her birthday.

“My birthday’s on Halloween, and I needed an event that was entirely my own and had nothing to do with my children,” Becket-Bonner said.

Flansburg joined to help support the community and spend more time with her already involved friends.

“I just like to give back to the community,” Flansburg said. “There’s just really a lot of people that rely on the funds from this. It’s outside dollars coming in, so I really believe in that.”

Barstow said that Haunted Palouse makes more money than it has in previous years. The first year, the event made $3,000 and last year, it made $70,000, Barstow said.

All of the proceeds go to community resources, Flansburg said.

Some of the community projects that Haunted Palouse has helped fund include playground equipment in a park, the skate park, a daycare center and the Palouse Community Center, she said.

Haunted Palouse has a rich history starting when the town’s print museum flooded in 1996, Barstow said.
“It was 17 degrees out and the museum had no heat, no power, no plumbing, no windows,” Barstow said. “It was not pleasant, but we thought $3,000 was cool and we had a good time.”

Haunted Palouse volunteers try to improve the attraction every year, Flansburg said.

“We keep trying to up the ante each year,” Flansburg said. “I think the creativity in this community is pretty cool.”

Attendees are encouraged to come in costume, but they should still dress appropriately for the weather and for walking around, Becket-Bonner said.

“I like scaring people,” Becket-Bonner said. “It’s really fun — especially big men.”

Echanove said when they first started Haunted Palouse it took a lot of time and effort. While the group still gives up most weekends in October to prepare, they have gotten it down to a science.

“We’ve gotten it down to a system,” Echanove said. “We know exactly what we need.”

According to the Haunted Palouse Facebook page, there are three locations. These include the print museum, the police station and a Haunted Hayride.

“It’s not planned that way, but we tend to have a different way of scaring [at each location],” Barstow said. “The two houses are quite different. We cover everybody.”

The Haunted Hayride takes place on Old Shady Lane, which has a unique history befitting a haunted attraction, experienced volunteer Jim Fielder said.

“It’s kind of a haunted lane,” Fielder said. “It wasn’t shady because of the shade that was there, but there used to be an old row of brothels in that area and there are leftover hauntings.”

On the Haunted Hayride, attendees sit on trailers that can hold up to 12 people at a time, Barstow said. They are towed by side-by-sides, off-road vehicles.

“Shady Lane is a scary place in broad daylight,” she said.

Fielder said the event has a minimum age requirement of 12 because people have asked for refunds because it was so scary.

“Our response is, ‘Didn’t you just pay us to frighten you?’” he said.

Flansburg advised that those who have never gone to a haunted house or any other kind of haunted attraction go with a group and stay in the middle.

“No high heels, please,” Becket-Bonner said. “You’re going to twist an ankle. It’s going to be cold. It may possibly be wet. Wear appropriate clothing.”

Aside from the haunted attractions, the Haunted Palouse has food vendors and a fortune teller, Barstow said.

“It’s just so much fun,” Echanove said. “We wouldn’t have done it for 18 years if it weren’t.”

Haunted Palouse opens on Friday, Oct. 18 and will run every Friday and Saturday until Oct. 26. Tickets will be sold every evening the event is open from 7-10 p.m. Admission is $25 for three tickets that allow attendees into each venue.

Alexa Becket-Bonner, board member of the Palouse Haunted House, says she loves scaring people during the Halloween season on Tuesday night in the Palouse.