museum

The Telluride Historical Museum (Courtesy photo)

The veil between the living and the dead thins as All Hallows’ Eve approaches. While Oct. 31 is reportedly the day that the dead are closest to,

and most active in, our mortal world, there are plenty of activities planned to celebrate their coming. Below is a roundup of Halloween festivities.

CHILDREN AND THE CORN

The world’s largest corn maze — verified by a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records on Oct. 3, 2014 — was a 60-acre behemoth on a farm in Dixon, California. The annual corn maze north of Montrose at the DeVries Family Farm is not as sprawling as that West Coast award-winner. Then again, its appeal is not limited to stalking amongst cornstalks. There is plenty for grown-up gourmands here, as well as kids amazed by mazes: Fresh tomatoes remain succulent even in late October, for example, while at the same time, green chiles are being roasted. There are pick-your-own pumpkins from an enormous, on-site pumpkin patch and — even better, for adults who like to eat well — a large variety of delectable winter squash in small (and therefore sweet-tasting) sizes.

The corn maze is open daily until 6 p.m.; it morphs into a night maze on Fridays and Saturdays evenings through the end of this month. Even so, Halloween is not a scarefest here — not even if you lose your bearings in the maze. (“Please call the farm at 970-323-6559” if this happens, a handout suggests, or, “in an emergency, call 911 and ask the dispatcher to telephone the farm to allow us to assist them in finding your location.”)

“We’ve never lost a visitor,” Randy Friend, a fourth-generation family member, farmer and firefighter who designs the maze each year, once joked to the online publication The Fence Post. “I do the harvest in November, and have never found anybody” (or, presumably, any body). That was seven years ago, and is hopefully still true.

The DeVries clan has owned these premises in Olathe since 1943.

“Before the corn grows, it’s in Randy’s mind” what each year’s design will be, farm owner Pamela Friend said (past themes have included a giant jack-o’-lantern, a buffalo herd, the rivals Olathe Pirates and Montrose Indians, a rodeo, an elk and the Denver Broncos). “He gets one of the engineering companies” in downtown Montrose to plot the design precisely, down to the GPS coordinates. “Then he rototills the trails each August.”

Now in its 12th year, the maze is a relatively new creation compared to the 17th Annual Fall Festival and Punkin Chunkin, at DeVries this Saturday.

Fall fest aficionados, take note: It is possible to take in both the event at DeVries and, a little farther up the road, outside Grand Junction, the annual Pumpkinfest at Studt’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze on Sunday for an annual harvest two-fer. The event at Studt’s includes a pumpkin demolition derby, pumpkin carving and smashing, kids’ candy trail, and more. Visit studtspumpkinpatchandcornmaze.com for more information.

This Saturday at DeVries, pumpkins will take flight, propelled by catapults, air cannons and even — at least last year — a trebuchet, “a copy of an old war-siege weapon” from the Middle Ages, as its inventor explained to a local TV channel.

Nor do adults get to have the only fun with cannons: stuffed toys are shot into the air for kids.

Entry is by donation and benefits the Olathe Volunteer Fire Department. Awards are given for most-accurately placed, hurled squash, as well as furthest-chucked pumpkin. The bruiser vegetables aren’t hurled just anywhere: they’re pitched with purpose at abandoned vehicles. “To watch them fly through the air and see what they do,” Pamela Friend said, her voice full of wonder. “They destroy a vehicle. A truck was in shreds.”

The DeVries Fruit & Veggies Roadside Stand is north of Montrose on Highway 50, between mile-markers 85 and 86. For more information, visit devriesproduce.com.

'ROCKY HORROR' HAPPENINGS

Written as way for an unemployed actor to amuse himself, The Rocky Horror Show (and its film version, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) has become an unlikely classic. And not necessarily a cult classic — some might argue it’s a full-on classic.

Richard O’Brien, who plays the intimidating, creepy butler, Riff Raff in the film, blended his love for B-movie horror, science fiction, 1950s rock ’n’ roll and the burgeoning glam rock movement of early 1970s London into his script. The show played on London stages before crossing the Atlantic for celebrated runs in New York and Los Angeles.

But it was the film that created the phenomenon in which moviegoers dressed as the characters and started their own dialogue with the offbeat personalities on the screen. Midnight screenings of the campy, gender-bending flick became ritual and, for the LGBTQ community, a forum in which self-expression was welcomed and encouraged. Don’t dream it, be it!

The plot is simple and fantastical. An engaged couple, Brad and Janet, get a flat tire on a dark and stormy night near Denton, Texas. They seek the use of a telephone at a nearby castle, where outlandish characters like Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff, Columbia and Magenta pull them into a world of sexual freedom, mad scientist creations, murder, aliens and a dance that everyone can perform.

Telluride Theatre is mounting its almost-annual shadow cast production, in which actors lip sync and perform along with the film. The show is Friday night at the Michael D. Palm Theatre at 9 p.m., and is eagerly anticipated by notoriously costume-mad Telluriders. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. VIP tables are $150 for four. The show is for those 18 and over. For tickets, visit telluridepalm.com.

“It’s such a weird, wild movie,” said Sasha Sullivan, artist director for Telluride Theatre. “It celebrates diversity, it celebrates fun and it celebrates freakiness. I love doing it in Telluride because it brings out the same things in our town.”

Since the demise of the Quonset hut — a legendary, cavernous building that was located just west of the elementary school — Telluride Halloween parties have diminished in size, attendance and notoriety over the years. Staging the Rocky Horror shadow cast seems to provide a similar outlet for locals looking to get their freak on for the Halloween season.

“We really want to create a big party. Get dressed, have some drinks and be raucous,” Sullivan said. “What’s better than singing along, dancing in the aisles and participating in this wild event?”

Judging by the show’s healthy ticket sales, not much. The shadow cast expands on the audience participation aspect of the cultural phenomenon — it’s a show within a show. Local actors have been rehearsing their dance moves, lip-synching skills and getting accustomed to moving around the stage in sky-high platforms.

In Ridgway, the Sherbino Theatre Company is getting into the fishnet-clad act as well, with three nights of “The Rocky Horror Show” Thursday through Saturday. As with the Telluride shadow cast, and in keeping with theater policies, no outside props are permitted. Imagine the clean-up if everyone threw hot dogs, toast, toilet paper and confetti and doused it with squirt gun showers. The cost of the ticket includes props. Get yours at sherbino.org.

On Halloween night, Oct. 31, Telluride’s one and only punk rock band, Ho Fun Deluxe, will host the Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show at O’Bannon’s Irish Pub, accompanied by a drag show by The Gaggers, starting at 9:30 p.m. There’s going to be a cover at the door ($5). Plus, there’s a costume contest with $100 cash prize for first place.

HAUNTINGS

If you prefer to get your kicks in real life, you also have trick-or-treating, cemetery tours and ghosts to chase.

Trick-or-treating in Telluride will take place Halloween night, Oct. 31, from 5-7 p.m. throughout town. The Telluride Historical Museum annually hosts Halloween on the Hill, during which every house along Fir Street has candy. After the little goblins and ghouls fill their bags with treats, the museum transforms into the Haunted Hospital maze from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for entry; scares are free. The museum on Gregory Avenue was built in 1896 as Hall’s Hospital, and served as such until 1964, when the hospital was closed due to a decreasing population. The museum reopened in 1966, but some of its former patients never left, allegedly.

Also on Halloween night, KOTO Radio is hosting its 44th annual Halloween Bash at the Liberty, featuring live music from Alan Booradley & The NIA. Doors open at 8 p.m., the show starts at 9 p.m. and there’s a costume contest at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10.

If you like to be outdoors whenever you encounter spirits, the museum is hosting its final Lamplight Lone Tree Cemetery Tour of the season Friday at 6 p.m. There’s limited space, so purchasing tickets ($15 for museum members and $20 for non-members) in advance is recommended. For tickets, visit telluridemuseum.org or call 970-728-3344 ext. 2. Participants should meet at the shed in the middle of the cemetery, dress warm and bring a flashlight.

Graveyards are naturally spooky. The whole zombie thing hasn’t helped, either. Thanks, George Romero. But the museum’s tours are more educational than deliberately frightening, as the stories of several prominent Telluriders who are at rest in Lone Tree will be told.

“Personally, I love cemeteries because they provide a snapshot in time of a community. Life in historic Telluride was rough and often tragic. Walking among the remains of these hardy people and learning their stories creates a special connection, especially appropriate for All Hallows’ Eve,” said Theresa Koenigsknecht, the museum’s director of programs and exhibits, who leads the tour.

If you’re an amateur ghost hunter, the Town of Telluride doesn’t lack in supposedly spiritual spots.

The New Sheridan Hotel, which was built in 1891, is home to several ghosts, according to local folklore. Detailed in Nancy Williams’ recently released book “Haunted Hotels of Southern Colorado,” an unknown man has been spotted by hotel staff walking through doors and chatting casually, once attempting to seduce a maid by singing, “Rosemarie, why don’t you dance with me?”

“She stopped her work again to make sure the hall and nearby rooms were empty. She found no one,” according to the book. “She was serenaded several different mornings, and there was never anyone around. Sometimes she heard a light cough and sounds like someone was clearing his throat repeatedly.” Creeper.

Locals also talk about the Sheridan’s historic bar being frequented by phantoms, especially when the lights flicker in the middle section that features several Victorian chairs; the hotel’s original front desk.  

The former Red Light District, mainly Popcorn Alley, along Pacific Street has been rumored to be the home to ghosts who may or may not have been former ladies of the night, as well. So grab your EMF meter and get out there.