By Ginna Hensel
As the leaves change, the air cools and Ellicottville prepares for fall, the home of the famous Ellicottville Championship Rodeo prepares for the scariest time of the year as it transforms into your worst nightmare.
This fall marks the 29th year of the Nightmare Hayrides with visitors making the drive from all over North America for the haunting adventure.
Owners John and Karen Kent pour their soul into the makings of this event every year, with each one bringing changes, and this year is no exception. John Kent reported that preparations went smoothly this year as the crew has been working since July to bring you happy haunts.
The Haunted Hayride crew has remolded three-fourths of their barn, added a new building for the demon house, redid the parking lot and more. Kent was careful to not reveal too much about the additions, he wants people to come and see them themselves.
But rest assured: this year’s fright fest extravaganza will be chilling as the Kents and their crew “have 29 years of haunting experience.”
John Kent also shared about the success stories from previous years, saying the Nightmare Hayride attracts Halloween fanatics from all over North America. They have had visitors from New Jersey, Canada and other faraway places. Kent reported that they have visitors that will make a five-hour drive for the scariest event around. He says they experience families walking up to their security thanking them.
“It really shocks me,” Kent said. People tell him “thank you for doing this for our families.” He says that people just love this place and Halloween. It serves as a bonding experience for families and friends alike. People beg him and his wife year after year to continue their business.
Kent was also sure to give his employees credit.
“Without them,” he says, “it would not be possible… We are one big family. This year we have about 90 employees.” One of those employees is a 78-year-old man who has been with the Kents since the first year.
The Nightmare Hayrides is also home to Karen’s Cook Shack. Here, visitors can fill up on chili, homemade soup, hamburgers, cookies and more. It will help you warm up on those chilly days.
The Nightmare Hayrides will sure make you scream. The cost is $20 a person, those 5 and under are free. The admission gives visitors access to the 25-minute hayride, haunted maze, haunted barn, a spooky vortex tunnel and all other attractions.
The Nightmare Hayrides run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 3 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Hayrides run through rain, sleet, snow, hail and sunshine. No appointments are necessary.
For more information, visit nightmarehayride.com or like them on Facebook. For questions, call 699-4839. Nightmare Hayrides is located at 6319 Sommerville Valley Road in Ellicottville.