You might be a big fan of carnival food, but I'm going to warn you right here and now to stay away from the popcorn bucket o' eyeballs.
And you don't want to know where the bloody corn dogs have been.
There will be a couple of much safer food trucks for popcorn and frankfurters outside The Midway of Madness Haunted Barn this weekend at the Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana.
Chad Swim, who leases a cattle barn from the county fair and owns the haunted carnival/farm, has plenty of nasty surprises for horror fans in his brainchild. The Midway is scarier than a mouthful of missing teeth.
The building has a hearse outside — should anyone happen to cease existing during the show.
Inside, you must read the rules, which are rather forcefully explained.
We won't get too specific, but the show is physical, to say the least, and you'll find yourself in a venue where just about everything can move, except the mulch spread on the ground. Walls tighten around you.
Swim, 42, is the co-owner of Custom Threads, an embroidery store in Champaign. He has loved haunted houses since he was a 3-year-old, and he would really like to make a living from haunted houses and the creation of grotesque props.
He has invested about $50,000 in the haunted carnival and also relies on 35 or more volunteers to keep the place going.
Besides the creepy music and the gory sights you'd expect, Swim makes judicious use of airbags and pneumatics to heighten the disorientation that makes raging wolves even more frightening.
Add to that some deranged farmhands, a bevy of psychotic clowns, more killers in hockey masks than you can count and the whole crazy carnie thing.
Warning: Don't touch the man getting electrocuted.
Don't pet the snakes, either. The lobster is in a bad mood. Pretty much everything that isn't nailed down is going to attack you. Watch for things swooping down from the top of the barn.
Besides his homemade props, Swim spent about $3,000 on a single gasp-inducing animatronic device.
He started out much more modestly, staging his first houses of horror in his parents' backyard.
"I really enjoy the show myself. This is my dream job," he said.
Swim also had smaller haunted areas in his own home, but he said there were questions of meeting the fire code.
Last year, he put on a more modest version of the show at the county fairgrounds.
"We had nothing when we started last year," Swim said. "This year is bigger and scarier than last year."
Swim and friends had to work fast to construct a wooden maze and get the house up and running between the end of the Champaign County Fair and the beginning of the ghost and ghoul season.
He expects it could take a couple of years to build a following and really make much of a profit from that dream, though.
"I'd like a permanent home for it. We'll get there," he said.
If you go
What: The Midway of Madness Haunted Barn
When: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Champaign County Fairgrounds, Urbana
More information: email@example.com
Here are some more Halloween options during the next week for people of all ages:
The Haunt at Bone Saw Mill. 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 24-Nov. 2, Fluid Events Center, 601 N. Country Fair Drive. Ages 16 and up. Some of the most twisted and bloodcurdling visions of horror imaginable filled with spine-chilling denizens of the dark beyond. Also, Zombie Apocalypse — Zombie Hunt, an interactive zombie paintball shoot. Upon exiting the mill, you will be thrown into the depths of the zombie apocalypse; be on the front lines facing the hordes. Prices: The Haunt, $15; Zombie Hunt, $15; The Haunt plus Zombie Hunt, $25; Family Pack, buy a group of four get one extra ticket free. 359-6960, bonesawmill.com.
After Dark: Champaign Ghost Stories. 7:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25; Orpheum Children's Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St. Hear ghostly tales, revealing history and surprising stories of criminal activity through the streets of downtown Champaign. Tour guides take guests to landmark spots. Must be 12 or older. Tickets $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers at the door or at orpheumkids.com/programs/specialevents#380.
Boo Bash. 8 p.m. to midnight Oct. 25, Mike 'N' Molly's, 105 N. Market St. Join R.A.C.E.S. for a night of fright and fun at our second annual fundraiser. Proceeds benefit survivors of sexual violence. Costume prizes. Entertainment by Michael Braswell and Satina of The Extreme Variety Act, DJ Reed Richards, DJ FAMICOM, iPod Nano raffle. Sponsored by Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services; Sticklen Insurance Agency; Rental City; Mike 'N' Molly's. 34 $5 cover. 4-6298, http://www.cu-races.org, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween Family Spooktakular. 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 26, Orpheum Children's Science Museum. Spooky science experiments, treats and the React Chemistry Show at 3 p.m. At 4, show off your costume with a parade through downtown, and then come back to the Museum for a monster-mash-dance party, wizardly activities, and treats. Free with admission; and free for members. email@example.com, orpheumkids.com/programs/specialevents#375.
Howl-o-ween. 3 to 3:45 p.m. Oct. 26, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St. Get an early start on Halloween with stories, crafts, and spook-tacular face painting by the Zoo Lady. For all ages. 403-2030.
Five Nights of Hitch. Film series featuring the classic suspense tales of Alfred Hitchcock, 1 and 7 p.m. Oct. 26, 7 p.m. Oct. 28-31, the Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave. "Rebecca," Oct. 26. "Strangers on a Train," Oct. 28. "Vertigo," Oct. 29. "Notorious," Oct. 30. "Psycho," Oct. 31. 356-9063, http://www.thevirginia.org.
Howl'oween at the Bark District. 2 p.m. Oct. 27, Champaign Bark District Dog Park, south side of Windsor Road between Rising Road and Staley Road. Ages 6+ for humans; 4+ months for dogs. Doggie costume contest and parade. Dogs will parade (on leashes) around the large dog section of the park; small dog section reserved for spectators. Parade, 2 p.m. Costume judging, 2:30 p.m. All dog park rules apply. Fee $5, nonmember; free, member. Spectators are free. 398-2550, http://www.champaignparkdistrict.com.
Centennial High School Interact Club's third annual Haunted House. 4:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27, Centennial High, 913 Crescent Drive. A not-so-scary half-hour time slot, 4:30 to 5 p.m. for younger children. Theme: "Haunted Carnival." Cost: $5 or a pair of lightly worn shoes. Proceeds go to Shoes4Water and for the service project to Haiti that Rotary Club is taking in summer 2014 with a few high school students from the Interact Club to help teach children in Haiti how to grow their own sustainable food source. http://www.shoes4water.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
Halloween Magic for Teens. 3 to 4 p.m. Oct. 29, Champaign Public Library. Local magician Markus Clegg will wow teens with his Halloween magic. He'll also teach a few tricks to attendees. For middle and high school students. No registration needed. 403-2070.
Annual Halloween Funfest. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 29, Marketplace Mall, Champaign. For ages 11 and younger. Champaign and Urbana park districts invite you to join in a free fun-filled evening for little ghosts and goblins. Dress up in your favorite costume and enjoy the Halloween festivities. Games and activities will be held for all, including a haunted house. Bring a bag to collect the Halloween goodies. 398-2550.
Nightmare on Grove St. 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31, Douglass Community Center, 512 E. Grove St., C. For ages 3-11. Dress in your favorite costume and join us for tricks and treats, and weather permitting, a hayrack ride around Douglass Park! Free. 398-2500.
Halloween Candy Buy Back. 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 5, Chladny Orthodontics, 1715 Broadmoor Drive, Suite A, C. Annual event and allows children to donate their Halloween candy to a good cause while earning a little cash at the same time. Dr. Chladny will pay $1 per pound of candy to the child donating (up to 10 pounds), donate $1 per pound to the Crisis Nursery and send all of the candy to the troops via Operation Gratitude. http://www.smilingillini.com, 356-2222, email@example.com.
Belly Boo 2013. 7 p.m. Nov. 9, HighDive, 51 Main St., C. An annual all belly dance breast cancer awareness fundraiser in honor of Halloween and supports the annual event Bellies for Life. A night of fun and entertainment, all the while for a good cause. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $7 with a costume, $7 with student ID, or regular price $10. The show benefits the Illinois breast cancer organization After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, http://www.abcdbreastcancersupport.org.
Eastern Symphony Orchestra: Fright Night. 6 p.m. Oct. 27, Dvorak Concert Hall, Doudna Fine Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University. Halloween costume contest, videos, candy and lots of frightening fun. Featuring the orchestra and special guests from Alton High. Tickets $5-$12. http://www.eiu.edu/doudna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 581-3110.
Halloween Candy Buy Back. 3 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4, Chladny Orthodontics, 1607 18th St. Further details in Champaign event description above.
Zombie Proms. 5 and 8 p.m. Oct. 25, The David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St. Halloween parties. Zombie Junior Prom festivities for the kids at 5 p.m., features trick or treat stations, face painting, music including sing-alongs, the First Gig Rock Camp Kids and 90's Daughter and more. Tickets $5 for kids under 18; parents/guardians and kids under 2 years, free. Zombie Prom for the older crowd at 8 p.m., features drink specials and music by 90's Daughter, X-Krush and Drummer Jon Paul Grey and DJ Danica. Performance Painter John Jansky will emcee and present a speed painting performance. Prom King and Queen contest. Tickets $10 general admission, $25 VIZ (Very Important Zombie); 877-772-5425, http://www.palmerarena.com. 431-2424.
Women of the Moose Kids Halloween Party. 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 26, Moose Lodge 1001 on U.S. 150. Games, special ghost story, maze, black lights and karaoke. Prizes will be awarded for each age group. 442-7339.
17th annual "Haunted Happenings" at Kennekuk. Gates open at 6 p.m. Oct. 26, Bunker Hill Historic Area in Kennekuk County Park. A cook-your-own wiener roast (hot dog, chips, and soft drink), hayride, and haunted trail. There is a kid's barn with prizes for the smaller folks, and take a walk through our kid's trail. Each activity runs concurrently throughout the evening. No pets allowed. $10. Tickets required, not available day of event. 442-1691.
Danville Post 210 Baseball Ghost Rally. 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26, starts American Legion Post 210, Jackson Street. Many scare sites and lots of fun to be had. $20 car load. Come and line up early. 213-7144, email@example.com.
Downs Haunted House. 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 25, 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 27, 107 E. Franklin St., Downs. Haunted House, hayrack ride, graveyard entertainment. $3 per person. 309-212-5003.
Freeky Creek Short Film Festival. 7 p.m. Oct. 31 and 8 p.m. Nov. 1-2, Sleepy Creek Vineyard, 8254 E. 1425 N. Road. Scary, weird and darkly funny films 4 to 10 minutes in length, produced by local and international filmmakers, are shown in the tasting room. Costumes encouraged. Freaky cake by Me Me's Treat Boutique. Seats $12 for Oct. 31-Freeky Cake Night. Seats $10 for Nov. 1-2. Reserve on the Web or by phone. http://www.sleepycreekvineyards.com, 733-0330.
Gates of Delirium Haunted Attraction. 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 25-Nov. 2, 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 27 and 31, downtown at 115 N. Central St. Voted a Top 5 Visitors' Favorite Haunt in 2012. General Admission $10. 379-7682, http://www.gatesofevil.com.
Costume judging contest. 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at village hall with party to follow until 9 p.m.
Ghost Train and Haunted Boxcar. Monticello Railway Museum. Trains depart from the museum site only starting every 30 minutes, 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26; every 30 minutes starting 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27. Regularly scheduled rides to Monticello available Saturday. All ages can enjoy the train ride through Camp Creek Hollow with a stop at Cemetery Road, but only the brave should check out the Haunted Boxcar. For younger children, matinees on Sunday for the train ride and lights-on walk-through of the Haunted Boxcar. Hot food and drinks available. Fare $7 for ages 2 and up. 877-762-9011, http://www.mrym.org.
Annual Harvest Fest. 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29, PVO South, 304 N. Market. Costume judging, 6 p.m. No entry fee. Twenty-five cent games. Raffle tickets for 25 cents at the door. Calk walk. Sponsored by the Village of Ogden. All proceeds given to the PVO PTO. 582-2520.
Baldwin Asylum. 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 24; 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 27, 31-Nov. 2, 2040 Lon Drive. Haunted house behind the Pizza Hut on U.S. 136. Tickets $15. Order tickets online. http://www.slayervilleproductions.com, http://www.facebook.com/BaldwinAsylum.
Zombie Halloween. 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31, Rantoul Public Library, 106 W. Flessner Ave. For ages 16 through adult. Costumes welcome. Face painting available. Zombie board games to play and spooky snacks to feast on. Popcorn and lemonade served as you watch a 2004 British zombie comedy film. R rated. 893-3955.
Trunk or treat. 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at village hall parking lot.
Annual Wesley Haunted House. 9 to 11 p.m. Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 25-27, NeoGothic building of the Wesley Foundation located one block East of Illini Union. Hosted by students from the University of Illinois and Parkland College. The largest student-run fundraiser for the Wesley Evening Food Pantry. Tickets $7, T-shirts $10. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween Party. 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 25, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St. Spooky crafts, monster stories, songs and snacks. Come in your Halloween costume for even more fun. For children ages 3 and up and their families (ages 7 or younger with a caregiver). 367-4069.
St. Pat's Youth Orchestra's Halloween Concert. "Magical Melodies and Monstrous Music," 7 p.m. Oct. 25, St. Patrick's Parish Center, 708 W. Main St. Free admission with dessert reception following email@example.com.
Gruesome, Gory, and Ghastly Ghosts and Ghouls. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26, auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory. Family event, featuring multicultural ghost stories most appropriate for children grades K—6. Children will leave with bags of candy. The concert features tellers Dan Keding, Kathe Brinkmann and Kim Sheahan, as well as tellers from the University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students. Suggested donation $5. 244-3355.
Family Halloween Dance. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 26, Phillips Recreation Center, 505 W. Stoughton St. Dress up in your favorite costume and join the Urbana Park District for a hauntingly good time. DJ, dance floor, light refreshments, and Halloween-themed crafts. For the whole family. 367-1544.
Stories from the Other Side. 7:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26, Spurlock Museum. This ghost story concert features tales with adult themes or heightened fear factors. For adults only (age 16 and above); everyone still gets candy. Storytellers listed in earlier Spurlock entry above. Admission: $8 adults, $6 students. 244-3355.
The String Academy's Spooky Halloween Spectacular. 2 to 2:45 p.m. Oct. 27, Urbana Free Library. Join the String Academy from the Community Center for the Arts for some spooky tunes. Wear a costume if you dare. For children and their families. 367-4069.
Illinois Brass Quintet Halloween Spooktacular. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27, Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets $4-$10. 333-6280.
The Amazing Kreskin. 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26, Watseka Theatre, 218 E. Walnut St. Halloween Party with The Amazing Kreskin, mentalist, who has appeared 61 times on "The Tonight Show."Doors open, 5:30 p.m. for dinner and full bar. Showtime, 7 p.m. Tickets: 815-993-6585 or http://www.watsekatheatre.com.
Children's Halloween party. 10 to 11 a.m. Oct. 26, Westville Public Library, 233 S. State St. For children 6 and older. There will be a create a story time, craft, games and fun. Call the library to register. 267-3170.