CHISHOLM — It’s official, the Field of Screams held its final season in 2018, and is calling it quits.
Shannon Kishel-Roche, the executive director at the Chisholm Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber board made the decision at a meeting last November. A number of factors, including weather and lack of volunteers came into play.
It was back in 2003 when Michael Valentini, a member of Chisholm Kiwanis, came up with the concept and recruited area business people and Kiwanis members to be responsible for different scenes along the haunted tour.
About a year later, the decision was made to have the Field of Screams be an event of the Chamber of Commerce. Since its inception, a total of 81,452 patrons visited the haunted attraction, most recently held at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. To date, the Field of Screams has donated $175,000 to non-profits on the Iron Range.
“Chisholm was the envy of a lot of communities on the Iron Range,” Rich Newbauer, a Field of Screams volunteer for its entirety said on Tuesday.
Not only did Chisholm have a successful Halloween event, but it also had a dedicated volunteer base.
An army of volunteers, ranging from 100 to 200 volunteers per season pitched in to make the Field of Screams a success. Kishel-Roche said set up typically took a month.
Between 2003 to 2007, Field of Screams was set up at the Minnesota Museum of Mining, using both indoor and outdoor space. In 2008, at the Museum Board’s request, it relocated to Minnesota Discovery Center where it operated up until last fall. But the uncertain and sometimes brutal Northland weather plagued the event.
“In 2017 we had a really horrible year for weather – snow, sleet and rain,” Kishel-Roche said.
With the damage experienced from the weather the previous year, the Field of Screams Committee decided to move all of the scenes inside the pavilion at MDC, with the idea of creating a more intense experience that was not subject to weather.
“It did not go over well,” Kishel-Roche said.
A number of committed individuals and groups played a part in Field of Screams since the beginning, yet finding an adequate volunteer base was a challenge.
About 10 years ago, the Field of Screams considered “closing the coffin,” so to speak. But when word got out, volunteers stepped up to keep it going. Today, the chamber is not expecting a rush of volunteers and hopes its escape rooms, introduced a couple years ago, will help fill some of the void left by the event ending. This past May, the chamber had success with two themed escape rooms, offered on Lake Street.
In the past few months, the Chamber has been working to liquidate the Field of Screams inventory. Newbauer is volunteering his time to head up the project, and has been able to connect with a couple of scare sites to sell a number of items.
A 48-foot storage container, complete with lighting and electric is one of the larger items still needing to be sold. The Vortex, a spinning walk through tunnel, popular at the Field of Screams is also available to purchase. Newbauer said there’s been interest in the Vortex, but it’s yet to sell. There are also a number of electrical items, including speakers, amplifiers and extension cords. Miscellaneous items include 4 x 8 panel walls used to make the various scenes, foggers, gallon drums and other items. The goal is to have everything liquidated by the end of this month.
Anyone wanting more information or to set up an appointment to view the Field of Screams inventory is asked to contact the chamber office at 218-254-7930.