CASPER, Wyo. — Come October, people will be able to get into the Halloween spirit with several local spooky offerings while learning about many bygone traditions of the witching season, thanks to the inaugural Casper Heritage Harvest Festival.
Scheduled for Oct. 25–31, the festival is a partnership between Theater of the Poor, The Casper Ghostbuster Ecto Interceptor Project and Candlelight Frights.
Anthony said the idea for the festival was borne in part from his interest in history and the many autumnal traditions that have fallen by the wayside over the years.
“The idea first came to me when I saw a social media post of historical Halloween costumes,” he said. “I’ve always been into history and always loved Halloween, and when I started looking into it I realized, ‘Wow, there’s all these other traditions that have been forgotten about.'”
Throughout the days-long festival, Candlelight Frights will be providing a “Vintage Handmade Halloween Experience” that aims to offer participants an educational, immersive and even spooky look at the forgotten traditions of All Hallow’s Eve.
The early show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include background on party traditions of centuries past; fortune telling; pumpkin carving and storytelling; field and farm traditions; ghost and witch folktales told by candle light; and other pieces of seasonal history.
Meanwhile, the later show runs from 9 p.m. to midnight, and includes everything in the first show, plus the Midnight Dumb Supper and the Voyage into Vintage Victorian Spiritualism.
“There are a lot of traditions that people know about, but the original meaning has been lost. A perfect example is bobbing for apples. Everyone knows about it, but most people don’t know why it’s something people did or what was involved,” Anthony explained. “Then there are traditions that have been completely forgotten over time. We want to educate people in a fun way.”
Some of the traditions that will be explored and explained date back as far as early colonial days, while others were practiced as recently as the mid-20th century, Anthony added.
The immersive Vintage Handmade Halloween Experience will be hosted at the Izaak Walton Club House, located less than a mile from the Fort Caspar Museum. However, it is only one of several offerings from the festival.
festival-goers will also be able to flex their creative muscles with an artisan alley, where participants will be able to take workshops on how to create their own Halloween costumes from scratch, and workshops on creating papier-mâché masks. Anthony noted that those who take a costume-making workshop will need to either bring their own sewing machine or borrow one, as they won’t be provided. No materials are required for the papier-mâché workshop, however.
Each night will also feature a fun and interactive murder mystery, where one attendee is named the murderer and the rest of the attendees need to determine who the killer is.
“Everyone will get an envelope when they arrive, and someone will be a murderer,” Anthony said with a smile. “It’ll be up to everyone else to figure out who that is before it’s too late.”
Also part of the festival, the Casper Ghostbuster Ecto Interceptor Project will be offering paranormal investigation tours of the famously haunted Casper Elks Lodge building.
“They’ve gathered lots of local lore about the hauntings there at the Elks Club,” Anthony said.
Anthony encouraged people attending the paranormal investigations to arrive roughly half an hour early.
“Pregaming is encouraged,” he said. “If you’re going to the one at 6, maybe aim to get there around 5:30. And if you’re going to the 9 o’clock one, get there around 8:30.”
The paranormal investigations are also a fundraiser, with proceeds going to support the Casper Historic Preservation Commission, the Casper Historical Society and the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, event organizer Azriel Anthony said.
Also featured during the festival will be performances of “The Lesson,” which Anthony described as being part of the “theatre of the absurd.”
The various components of the festival will be ticketed separately. In the coming week, people will be able to purchase tickets and find a schedule of events at Candlelight Frights’ website here.