|Mike and Sharlene: owners of Dogwood Pass.|
How did this authentic old West town come to be located in Eastern Ohio?
Mike: I was born and raised here. It started out as a hobby, I built a saloon, and it turned into a town, period.
So you just built it one building at a time.
Mike: One building didn't look right so we added another building, and the second building looked like it needed another building, the third looked like it needed another, and another. One street looked like it needed another street...
|Welcome to the 1800's.|
Mike: Twenty-seven or something like that. I haven't really counted them all, yet.
Sharlene: We have plans for five more this season.
Mike: Yeah, we're adding five major buildings this season.
Sharlene: We're definitely a gold mining boom town: buildings go up.
How big is it?
Mike: You know that's hard to guess. It's going up and down the hill. Where it will end up at, I don't know. It covers more than an acre now, probably.
Mike: My grand kids.
Sharlene: Well we always did haunted things for our grand kids for years and years and as the town grew so did the haunted town. Then the public started hearing about it, so it kind of grew from there.
Mike: We haunted one building one year for our grand kid's Halloween party and then it went to two, three, four buildings so then we decided to open it to the public.
How many years ago was that first one?
Mike: The first one was probably ten years ago.
How did people hear about it?
Mike: Basically word of mouth in the community, as far as Halloween goes, and it spread from there through social media.
|Just a friendly local.|
Mike: At least seventy-five people. Seventy-five to one hundred for this year.
Sharlene: And they're all volunteers.
Mike: We gain ten to fifteen people every year.
Can you describe some of the attractions or events that you have?
Mike: The Halloween event is everything from Old West zombies to ghouls and goblins, Jason and Freddy Krueger and the headless horseman, you name it. We even have snake buildings.
Sharlene: It's definitely a haunted Old West Town.
Do you supply all the costumes?
Mike: Oh, no. We supply a lot of the stuff. But the actors get so into it they bring their own mask and makeup. Our local “Miss Kitty” for the Old West events, she's a great makeup artist. Her whole family comes and starts making people up.
|The family that scares together...|
Mike: The whole family will haunt one area, so that's kind of the way it works.
Do the groups that come in pretty much just go where they want?
Mike: Well, no. We kind of set it up. We rope the town off and herd the people in a certain way. So we say: “hey we need you to do this, or we need you to do that.” But we use everyone's ideas.
Is there food available?
Sharlene: There are vendors outside.
Mike: Outside in the line. Last year was our biggest year. We really opened it up for four weekends and people came from Cleveland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and everywhere. They were hearing about it, and you'd look out the gate here, where they come in, and there would be three or four hundred people in line out there. So, again, that's another thing that's outgrowing us. We're trying to keep up with it.
Sharlene: And this year we're so excited because we have a professional actor that's actually going to be the headless horseman and he's got his own horse and costume. He's going to be outside the gate. There will be haunts going on outside. We have a big movie projector we put up so while people are standing and waiting they can watch the horror flicks. So we try to entertain them inside and out. The town has scenes of terror all through it.
Mike: It takes probably twelve minutes just to get through the saloon.
Sharlene: It's a 45 minute haunt at the very least. Every year we get better.
|Live horse opera.|
Mike: For old west festivals and school field trips, weddings and graduation parties.
Sharlene: We also host Texas Hold'em tournaments in the Fall and my husband's concealed carry classes in Fall and Winter. We try to utilize the town every weekend and do something. We're having a big Christmas thing this year where we're going to light up the town for the first couple of weeks in December. So we're excited about that too. We think that will be a lot of fun. All of our our volunteers love the town and they come to play and partake. It really creates a great atmosphere.
Sharlene: And we're very family friendly. We cater to the family. We're alcohol free so we can avoid any kind of issues that would come from that. We have a very respectful neighborhood and we adore our neighbors and we take into account the community.
Mike: You can rent the town for parties and weddings and that's not to say that's alcohol free. They're allowed to bring their own drinks in. You rent it, it's on you. We don't serve alcohol for our festivals. It's not a dry town, but we don't supply it for a lot of festivals or Halloween.
Do you try to stay historically accurate?
Mike: That is my biggest goal is to keep it as historically correct as possible.
So it's educational for families.
Mike: Very educational. This year we've been doing a lot of field trips for schools. From sixth graders on down. We do a lot of Christmas parties. We also support special needs groups.
Sharlene: Every year we have a CF benefit. We sponsor a child that has cystic fibrosis and all the proceeds go to that family.
Mike: All of our tour money that we get for daily tours, we put that toward putting on this benefit every year. We pick out a local family every year with a kid that has cystic fibrosis and everything we make that day goes to the family.
|"I think you boys have had enough beans already."|
So if you want people to be able to come here, where is the best place for them to go to find out more information?
Mike: You can find us at "Dogwood Pass" on Facebook.
If you like this article, check out my interview with the director of the "Scary Stories documentary."