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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Field of Screams

Air Date: Week of October 29, 2010

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During the Halloween season, on fear farms like the Boyette's, pumpkins turn to haunted jack-o-lanterns when night falls.

To keep bringing in the green, a family farm in Clayton, North Carolina makes food during the growing season and fear in the fall. Glenn Boyette gives host Bruce Gellerman a tour of Clayton Fear Farm.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: What’s happening to the nation’s family farms is frightening. While they make up 98 percent of the U.S. farms, they’re responsible for just 15 percent of production. And here’s the really scary part: nearly half of the families down on the farm don’t turn a profit. So a growing number are resurrecting their plots and turning them into….

[MUSIC: Various Artists “Toccata and Fugue in d Minor for Organ BWV 565” from The 50 Most Essential Baroque Masterpieces (X5 Music Group 2010)]

GELLERMAN: Haunted attractions…

[MUSIC]

GELLERMAN: Come the harvest moon thousands of family farmers in the United States become pumpkin sellers, maize makers and purveyors of fear as they try to scare up money from fallow fields. Glenn Boyette’s farm in Clayton North Carolina has been in the family for generations, this time of year he turns it into the Clayton Fear Farm.

BOYETTE: It was my grandfather’s, and you know, he passed it down to one of my uncles and then my wife and I purchased his estate. We’re in the produce business. This year we concentrated on sweet corn and watermelons. Labor was getting extremely hard to come by, and we were looking for an alternative method of getting some revenue on the farm. And I attended a haunted house convention that was in Charlotte, North Carolina—Haunt-Con.

GELLERMAN: A haunted house convention? Did you meet a lot of people who in their past lives were family farmers?

BOYETTE: A bunch. I knew absolutely nothing about the haunted house industry. And after that, we visited several of the farms all over the country, picked up ideas and brought them back here and turned it into our theme. It’s called Clayton Fear Farm, and it’s a Halloween haunted house or Halloween haunted theme park, and we just grew from there.


The Boyette's fear farm includes a haunted house that requires 3D glasses to truly appreciate. (Photo: Clayton Fear Farm)

GELLERMAN: How long has fear been running in the Clayton family farm?

BOYETTE: This is our ninth season.

[SOUNDS OF BULL SCREAMING]

BOYETTE: That was the bull that was going crazy, that was about to meet his- meet his fate.

[EVIL LAUGH]

BOYETTE: One of the most rewarding things in this industry is when a young lady comes out of one of my houses and she has to wrap her sweater around her waist.

GELLERMAN: You know, Mr. Boyette, you sound like a real prankster.

BOYETTE: (laughs) Well, I don’t whether to thank you or not!

GELLERMAN: You like scaring the pants off people, don’t you?

BOYETTE: Yes, sir. Absolutely. I mean, where else in the world can you mess with people and get paid for it?

[DOGS BARKING]


During the Halloween season, on fear farms like the Boyette's, pumpkins turn to haunted jack-o-lanterns when night falls.

BOYETTE: That was the sound of the dog you just heard, as an animatronic. And as the dog starts to bark that gives the perfect situation for an actor to come charging out and scare the people out of the house.

[SOUND OF RECORDING SAYING “WE ACCEPT CASH ONLY. KEEP IT MOVING.” EVIL LAUGH.]

GELLERMAN: You have a no chicken refund policy.

BOYETTE: That’s right. (laughs)

GELLERMAN: So if people get too scared they don’t get their money back.

BOYETTE: That has happened, absolutely. We’ve had some people get mad because we scared their partner. You know, hey, that’s what we do.

GELLERMAN: How many people do you have coming through your fear farm?

BOYETTE: Somewhere between 15 and 20 thousand.

GELLERMAN: Fifteen or 20 thousand people?

BOYETTE: That’s correct.

GELLERMAN: And the season lasts, like what, a month, right?

BOYETTE: We’re open 17 nights.

GELLERMAN: Woah, you are raking it in.

BOYETTE: No sir. (Laughs). It takes a lot to put on this show.

GELLERMAN: Do you miss farming at all?

BOYETTE: We’re not out of touch with farming. You know, we do enough of it to keep our hands dirty and down to the grassroots. Without a doubt it’s a lot of hard work, but so is running the haunted house business a lot of hard work. I’m very happy with what I’m doing right now.

GELLERMAN: Glenn Boyette runs the Clayton Fear Farm in Clayton, North Carolina.

 

Links

Clayton Fear Farm

 

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