SOUTH BELOIT—“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary. . .”
The Rich and Verda Barclay property seems like the kind of place Edgar Allan Poe would have immersed himself in as he wrote his chilling works of intrigue and horror.
The original farm and house at 6512 Manchester Road dates back to 1832 and some say it is haunted to this day.
The Barclays have lived onsite for 25 years and for 23 years have offered the public a chance to get scared, Rich Barclay said recently.
Welcome to Fear Fest 2021 where the Creepy Carnival, Haunted Barn and Haunted Hayride will be offered again this year Oct. 1-31, from 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 7-10 p.m. on Sundays. Those who attend can buy $15 tickets for each event or one $40 ticket and do all three. Parking is free on the three-acre lot.
The idea to offer the property as a haunted site began as a fundraiser for the South Beloit Lions, Barclay said. Later he and his wife took over the notion and five years ago added the building that serves as the Creepy Carnival, he said.
Enter the Creepy Carnival and you are sure to see the larger-than-life gargoyle with its turning head, creepy eyes and exhale of fog.
Move on to plenty of macabre sites, characters that jump out at you like the grim reaper and more and you are sure to be taken off your guard.
Enter the Haunted Barn and feel the historic presence of the architecture with its cement, wooden and dirt floors throughout the 189-year-old wooden structure.
Greeted by a frightfully uncommon hologram host, the journey along the hallways of the old barn gets creepier and creepier, darker and darker both in terms of light and mood.
Adding to the suspense are the live actors who interact with the crowd along the way.
Then there also is the Haunted Hayride, which also comes with its own special set of terrors.
Barclay said the props and décor stay in place all year, which allows for work on the projects when it’s not open.
But there is more to the property than the outer buildings.
The Barclays also say their home is haunted. But it is not part of the self-guided tours.
“I hear and see stuff all the time in the house and in the out buildings,” Rich Barclay said.
“I can wake up in the middle of the night and hear children,” he said.
“Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing …”
- From The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (Died Oct. 7, 1849, age of 40.)