Ghouls, ghosts and maniacal monsters were on hand to scare visitors brave enough to venture out to Frightmare Farms on East Gillette Road near Planada over the past few days, and the nightmare isn't over.
About 20 minutes southeast of Merced, Frightmare Farms started as a family function years ago, but has grown into one of the county's biggest Halloween attractions.
Last year, Kelly Brown, who owns the farm with her husband, Warren, and is one of eight organizers of the event, decided to bring more people through the attraction as a test market.
"We just did a word of mouth, and we had more than 1,000 people come through in three nights," Brown said. "Then we decided, 'Let's do it,' and we went and got all of our permits."
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With increased advertising and promotion, they've already broken last year's attendance record, she said. More than 2,000 people have been through, and that number should skyrocket when Halloween draws closer.
"It's going to be rocking this weekend," Brown said.
Though the farm is out in the country, it's easily accessible, Brown said, adding that people have come from Modesto, Tracy, Bakersfield, Clovis and the Bay Area to experience the horror firsthand.
The farm includes a heart-pounding walk through a monster-infested barn called "Barnyard Slaughter," a terrifying hayride through a spooky cornfield called "Frightmare Express" and a calmer, nonhaunted hayride for kids.
Tickets cost $10 for Barnyard Slaughter, $8 for Frightmare Express and $5 for the hayride.
There's also a concession area where visitors can watch a video monitor of those going through the haunted barn.
Coordinating the event is a year-round effort for the organizers.
"We have a lot of friends and family who are working with us," Brown said.
Her son, Dan Brown, said there are about 50 people working at the farm.
Dan and his brothers, Greg and Josh, have played a big role in overseeing the actors and attractions.
After having a few days to warm up and get into the swing of it, the attractions are in full effect, Dan Brown said.
Frightmare Farms kicked off the terror Friday and will stay open through Halloween. Doors open at 7 p.m. The address is 8964 E. Gillette Road.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.