Staff Writer

Whether you like to be scared out of your wits or prefer a more sedate, festive Halloween, central Maine communities are ensuring there’s a celebration to meet everyone’s taste this month.

Halloween of the old days was pretty simple, with gremlins donning homemade costumes, with maybe a store-bought mask to match.

But now, Halloween attire, parties and festivities can be quite elaborate. Colby College, for instance, buses children to campus from the South End Teen Center for its Halloween Extravaganza, which is free and includes everything from a haunted house in a dormitory basement to a trick or treating adventure down Roberts Row.

Hosted by the Colby Volunteer Center and Community Advisors, the event is 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, with buses picking children and chaperones up at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. from the teen center off Water Street and returning them at 3 p.m. or 4 p .m.

“It’s one of our favorite events this fall,” said Dana Roberts, director of Colby Volunteer Center. Those wanting more information may email [email protected]

At the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds Oct. 21 and 22, revelers should be prepared to get the fright of their lives during the Haunted Hay Rides. The fee is $5 a person.

Starting at 6 p.m. both nights, participants are driven through a maze of scary scenarios, according to Cory King, executive director of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event.

“Scenes are set up and we have wandering scarers who will just jump out of the darkness at you,” King said. “It’s everything from vampires to witches, zombies and chainsaw massacre-ers.”

He emphasized that people of all ages are welcome to come, be terrified and shriek to their hearts’ content.

“We are equal opportunity scare-ers. We scare adults, just as we do the little ones.”

Between 400 and 700 people typically come to the event, which is one of the chamber’s largest fundraisers of the year, according to King. He encourages people to volunteer, by calling him at 474-3621.

Also in Skowhegan Oct. 21 and 22, the town hosts a haunted house in the municipal building on Water Street from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., for a fee of $3 a person. The event is not recommended for young children, according to the town’s website.

In the town of China, The Devil’s Den Haunted Hay Ride and Fall Festival is held 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, through October 30, at Windy Ridge Deer Farm on 75 Dirigo Road.

Hosted by Jean Brown and Joe Sears, the festival includes Pumpkinland, featuring a hay ride available for children 10 and younger, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission to Pumpkinland is $7 a child and is free for parents. Evening hay rides are $12.50 per ride. Some of the proceeds benefit the Weeks Mills Volunteer Fire Department and Make-A-Wish Foundation. For more information, visit

Those living closer to Newport will find lots of fun happenings in that town Oct. 22, 29 and 31.

The Newport Cultural Center at 154 Main St. will host a fall festival Oct. 22 where children will be invited to make fresh cider with an old-fashioned hand cider press. They also may play games, pet animals and look at fire and U.S. Army trucks, according to Leigh Hallett, center director. The festival, which is open to the public free of charge, will be 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Then at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29, the center will host a story hour followed by a guided trick or treating adventure to the fire and police departments, as well as to area businesses, Hallett said.

At 5:30 p.m. Halloween Day, Oct. 31, the Newport Fire Department at 23 Water St. hosts goblins of all ages for apple cider and homemade doughnuts, according to Lt. Adam Noyes

Firefighters have hosted the event many years, doling out 14 dozen doughuts and about 12 gallons of cider each Halloween, Noyes said.

“We’ve never turned anybody away or told anybody they couldn’t have seconds,” he said. “We put a truck outside and the kids come in and look at the equipment.”

In Farmington, a haunted house sponsored by Student Theatre UMF will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 28 at the UMF Alumni Theatre. The event is recommended for children 12 and older and admission is by two-dollar per person recommended donation.

Also on Halloween, residents of Burleigh Street in Waterville organize a block party that draws about 2,500 people every year, according to Mayor Dana Sennett, who organizes the event with his wife, Pam.

The idea is to create a safe place, free of moving traffic, where children and their parents or guardians can enjoy the night, Mayor Sennett said.

“It goes from about dusk to about 7:30 p.m. — or until we run out of candy,” he said.

A dozen Burleigh Street residents take part in the event, handing out candy to children, and police block the street off to traffic.

The Sennetts spend about $200 on candy and invite guests into their home with the stipulation that each guest brings two bags of candy to hand out, he said. In return, they get to try his special homemade chili.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Sennett said. “It’s a tradition the Sennett family has really enjoyed, and I’ll continue to do it as long as I can.”

Maureen’s School of Dance will perform in the middle of Burleigh Street, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

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