The Little family, from left, Logan, Paul, Demery and Regan Little, will be happy to spook you starting Oct. 25 at their Nightmare on First Street: Field of Screams & Haunted Barn. The event will run through Nov. 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. A $5 donation for admission will go toward the 150th anniversary celebration of Fountain’s establishment.
The Little family, from left, Logan, Paul, Demery and Regan Little, will be happy to spook you starting Oct. 25 at their Nightmare on First Street: Field of Screams & Haunted Barn. The event will run through Nov. 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. A $5 donation for admission will go toward the 150th anniversary celebration of Fountain’s establishment.
A visit to the hardware store, a three-hour drive to grandma's and grandpa's home, or a brief moment of Internet surfing all hold something in common for the Little family of Fountain. They are perfect opportunities to think of something new for their haunted barn.

"I'm constantly thinking," shared Paul Little who, with his family, has been constructing elaborate scary scenes for the Halloween season the past three autumns.

Paul always liked Halloween growing up, but began to really enjoy it when his son, Logan, began to exhibit interest as a young child.

Paul's wife, Regan, recalled how the family would do post-Halloween shopping because Logan loved it. Before long, the Littles, including their daughter, Demery, had accumulated a wealth of materials suitable for their own haunted houses.

"We all got into it," said Paul.

The Littles live at the east end of First Street in Fountain and have been there for the past three years. Paul's mother had reported that only two children had shown up for Halloween treats the year before.

"We can do better than that," Paul remembered saying. With the challenge in place, the family decked out their front yard that year and discovered they liked spooking people who ventured through it. They realized they had many more resources at their disposal, not the least of which was an old barn on their property. The minds of the family really started to work then.

The barn was perfect. Since the original structure has only a few walls within the building, the Little's have had a lot of freedom in designing the floor plan for the haunted barn. In order to create narrow, dark and disorienting passages last year, the Littles carried about 30 straw bales and 50 sheets of plywood into the barn.

This year, they have over 300 bales of straw and even more plywood and pieces of wall taken from wherever they can get it for cheap or free. Paul said most of the lumber used in the barn is from stuff people have thrown out.

Construction takes up the most time. Walking through the barn, a person will be able to notice how many of the walls are not straight. Paul said it takes a while to get the walls to look like they are originally part of the barn. This year, initial construction began in June. As more material was moved into place and the passageways began to take shape, the barn became much darker and more disorienting, even during the daytime.

Throughout the barn, scenes detailing a circus carnival gone wrong are wrought with eerie detail. "We'll never finish it," said Paul, explaining how they will be adding details up to opening night. In fact, he added, they will be refining and changing things from night to night.

Preparation for this year's haunted barn began when last year's event had scarcely ended. The plans of each haunted barn center on a theme. Last year's told the sorry story of a group of gremlins, which had carried out war-like destruction within the barn's walls. This year, it's a circus carnival unlike any you've ever seen. Creepy clowns are just the beginning.

The Littles and their friends have spent hundreds of hours perfecting each part of the barn and surroundings. Even while preoccupied with the current year's scenes, Paul admitted he has already started planning next year's barn since each year must be different.

Many times, Regan has to tell him he can't follow through on an idea. Paul will just come up with more. "An item might inspire me. I might pick up something at an auction," he said.

Sometimes, he will look online for ideas and then promptly say, "I can do better than that."

Their confidence in producing a great experience is warranted as more than 300 people showed up to their four-night unpublicized haunted barn last year. This year, they hope to see more people from a greater radius arrive.

The main event

Visitors will park in the front yard at 609 First Street in Fountain and first stop at the ticket booth. Each person will make a minimum $5 donation for admittance.

Starting with last year's event, the Littles decided to make this annual event one for charity. "A few people said we should charge, but we didn't want to," said Regan. "We want people to feel like they are doing something good."

Last year, they received $1,000 in cash and food donations for the Fillmore County Food Shelf. This year, a portion of the proceeds will go toward the Food Shelf, with a majority going toward the Fountain Trail Day fund, which is preparing for the 150th anniversary of the city's establishment. The Littles also encourage people to bring non-perishable food items for the food shelf.

Visitors will then walk in the dark toward and through a field with all manner of deadly arrangements. Watch out for Death himself. The barn will be next.

"We want people to get stuck in the labyrinth," said Paul.

This year, there are more than four actors who, besides scaring the living daylights out of you, will help you, if necessary, navigate the seemingly never-ending barn labyrinth.

Paul encourages people to take the time to look at the scenes in the barn. "The scenes set people up to scare themselves," he said.

After exiting, survivors will be rewarded with free popcorn and hot chocolate.

The Nightmare on First Street: Field of Screams and Haunted Barn will run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 2, open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night.

Those who feel like they do not want the highest level of scary will be given glow bracelets which will warn actors to tone down their antics.

"It's not putting your hand in spaghetti or grapes," said Regan, "It's all in the details."

Paul echoed his wife's statement adding, "There is no doubt they will enjoy it. We are going for the 'wow' factor."