A haunting we will go

A grateful Bickford relocates Fort Dodge Fear Factory with the help of FD mayor

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Brooke Bickford, of Fort Dodge, carries one of her clown masks down Central Avenue to the new location of the Fort Dodge Fear Factory Wednesday night.

The Fort Dodge Fear Factory is moving its location two blocks down the road to the Trolley Center, 900 Central Ave., according to Brooke Bickford, the organizer of the haunted attraction.

The move was made possible with the help of Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich and Heartland Communications Group Inc., Bickford said.

Joseph Peed and Sue Peed, of Fort Dodge, are donating the use of that space, she said.

“Matt really went out of his way and talked to Heartland Communications,” Bickford said.

Joseph Peed is chairman of the board of directors for Heartland Communications Group, which has its corporate offices in Fort Dodge.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Detrick Keys, of Fort Dodge, has a look at a bag of fake bone props as he makes his way down Central Avenue Wednesday night. Keys volunteered to help move some props from the Fort Dodge Fear Factory's original location to the new location at the Trolley Center.

“Matt Bemrich has been helping me this whole time and it really worked perfect,” Bickford said. “It will be really creepy once we get our props in there, and they are donating the space so that’s really nice.”

Themes will include something from your worst nightmare or one of the scariest, creepiest horror characters which could include Michael Myers from “Halloween,” Pennywise from “IT” or Freddy Krueger from “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

On Wednesday, volunteers helped Bickford move some spooky supplies down the road.

Bickford brought her favorite clown piece with her while Jenny Gernhart, of Fort Dodge, helped with some skull props.

Detrick Keys, of Fort Dodge, was the bearer of a bag of fake bones. Keys was helping Tim Goodale, of Fort Dodge, load up some of his supplies to include in the new space.

The haunted house was originally going to be held in a 127-year-old building, located at 1100 Central Ave. Bickford has owned that building since 2011.

But once the city of Fort Dodge found out about the event, Bickford was notified of numerous city code violations. Some of those included only one way in and out of the building, no smoke alarms, no sprinkler system, and no illuminated exit signs.

She either had to meet the requirements or move the attraction to an alternate location.

The Trolley Center meets all the requirements, according to Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter.

“It meets every element for life safety,” he said. “It has a sprinkler system, exit signs and three emergency exits.”

He added, “So it’s a great location for the haunted house.”

Hergenreter said the Fire Department is developing an emergency action plan for volunteers who will be working the event.

“We did a walk through and put together an emergency action plan for a medical emergency or fire emergency,” he said. “In case something does happen, they will be prepared.”

Bickford said she is pleased with the resolution.

“I am happy with the new spot,” she said. “It was just a slight road block. I think after being upset by the news on Monday, I just decided to pick up and make sure this still went off because I think its important for Fort Dodge to have an event like this so they don’t have to go out of town.”

The haunted house will be made available to both kids and adults.

“It brings something here for the youth and adults,” she said. “It’s an alternative event. It gives people a little more excitement and spend some time downtown. All the way around it’s a positive.”

The haunted house at the Trolley Center will be available for tours on Oct. 26, 27, and 28, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night.

The space is handicap-accessible, according to Bickford.

She said the amount of space is similar to the setup at her building.

“We are at about 3,000 feet, so it’s still comparable to what we had. We just wont have to worry about the stairs,” she said.

Funds raised from the event are to go to two local charities, AFES and Yeah, Baby. AFES is Athletics for Education and Success, which is an after school program. Yeah, Baby is a charity to help young moms in the area.

Bickford is appreciative of Bemrich’s help.

“Matt went above and beyond,” she said. “He really did.”

She added, “I think this actually brought the community together quite a bit and it has turned out to be a pretty positive thing.”