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Haunted Barn offers a bloody good Valentine's bash

Kenny Kemp
Co-owner Josh Harper said part of the challenge for operating a place like The Haunted Barn is coming up with different ways to scare people. It's all in fun, of course, but no two people are frightened the same way.
Kenny Kemp
Chris Farry, one of The Haunted Barn's creative directors, shows off some of the spooky props that are all part of the attraction's arsenal.
Kenny Kemp
Just in case they need them, The Haunted Barn keeps all the faces of your favorite nightmares around.
Kenny Kemp
Harper and Farry say The Haunted Barn does a brisk business at the concession and souvenir stand. Their top seller, they say, is Haunted Barn underwear.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It takes almost no effort to make the old SportMart Warehouse at 426 Beauregard St. look like the kind of place where bad things have happened.Even from the outside, the weathered 100-year-old building on the East End radiates a certain amount of time-earned menace. It looks haunted, and that was before The Haunted Barn set up shop last fall, promising regularly scheduled scares year-round.On Saturday, The Haunted Barn will present its first haunt since Christmas, a special blackout haunted house and My Bloody Valentines dance. Next Friday and Saturday, it will offer a different My Bloody Valentine haunted house.The theme is based on the 1971 slasher horror film (remade in 3D in 2009) about a deranged killer wreaking havoc in and around a dangerous mine. You don't have to have seen the films, but it wouldn't hurt, as there will be references to them.While they wouldn't say what visitors can expect when they step foot in the blackout haunted house, co-owners Josh Harper and Chris Farry were happy to hint at what people might see."Nothing," joked Farry, who is one of the barn's creative director.After all, it is a blackout."We send them through in small groups with just a little flash light."As far as Valentine's Day date nights go, a visit to The Haunted Barn is a far cry from dinner and a movie, but Harper and Farry believe there are plenty of people out there who crave something different."It's all for a good time, but we want to scare you," Harper said.Since 2003, The Haunted Barn has been a Halloween staple in Winfield with hundreds of guests nightly. Originally held in a barn belonging to Lee's father, the attraction frightened thousands each season, but after the late June derecho damaged the building, Lee and partners Harper, David Bowles and Cameron Goode found the new place in Charleston.Still, Harper said a move had more or less been coming even without the destructive windstorm. "We'd really outgrown the place in Winfield," Harper said. "We just got too big for it." The new place has two floors and about 19,500 square feet to work with. It's nearly four times the size of the old Haunted Barn. That's plenty of room to get lost in the dark, which is sometimes the point.Harper, a police officer by day, reveled in the new space as a great place to devise new thrills. The space on Beauregard Street has plenty of room to explore all sorts of diabolical delights.
"What's cool about horror is what scares you may not scare somebody else," he said.The plan is to offer up different horror-themed events over the course of the year: different haunted houses, yes, but also zombie proms and witches balls."We can do dances, birthday parties and, yes, weddings," Harper said.In fact, the pair mentioned that a couple was planning a living dead-themed rededication ceremony at The Haunted Barn.
It's not all scares and frights, though. The Haunted Barn already hosts local wrestling events and is working to bring in more dances and other non-horror-related events."Charleston really needs something like this," Harper said.
It just takes the passion and the nerve to make it happen, which is something the owners say they have plenty of. You'd have to be made of stern stuff to spend odd hours working in a dark, creepy place."We've heard a couple of things," Harper said. "We've heard what sounds like footsteps upstairs when there's nobody supposed to be up there.""It's an old building," Farry, an electrician, said with a shrug.But he didn't seem totally convinced.Harper laughed it off."I'm not saying it's haunted," he said. "I don't want to say it's haunted because I have to work here."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.WANT TO GO?My Bloody Valentines Dance WHERE: The Haunted Barn, 426 Beauregard St.WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. SaturdayTICKETS: Dance and blackout haunted house $10, dance only $5, haunted house only $9INFO: 304-389-1203 or www.thehauntedbarn.usMy Bloody Valentine Haunted HouseWHERE: The Haunted Barn, 426 Beauregard St.WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16TICKETS: $9INFO: 304-389-1203 or
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