It was 10 years ago when Dreadwood haunt owner Darrin Johnson proposed the idea of creating a haunted trail in the backwoods of Wisconsin. Standing among the trees, far from civilization, Darrin’s eyes widened with excitement as he looked at Emily, his fiancé, and said, “We’re going to open a Halloween attraction here. And we’re going to do it this year.”
Emily was a bit skeptical on how this would be accomplished within such a short time frame, but she knew Darrin was a man with passion and a vision to get things done so she allowed herself to climb aboard the who-knows-where-this-road-will-take-us-but-it’s-kinda-fun train and began preparations to open a charitable haunt in Hudson, Wisconsin.
With the help of Becki LeMire and Alan Madison, a couple also committed to the idea of a charitable haunt, along with a team of friends and family members willing to help us see our vision through to reality, we opened Dreadwood in October of 2010.
“Maybe 50 people will come. Don’t worry. It’s just a start,” Darrin said to Emily hours before they opened. On the first night, 350 people took a chance and came out to Dreadwood. And this was only the beginning!
As we approach Dreadwood’s 10th Anniversary, we look back in awe at what Dreadwood has accomplished. It has been a place where thousands of volunteers came together to scare for a good cause, 35,000 patrons have walked our trails, over 23,000 pounds of food have been donated to the food shelf, and $187,000 has been raised for local charities.
Words cannot describe the pride we feel in what we have done together. And for that we thank you.
But as you know, all good things must come to an end. Two years ago the owners began thinking about how long we could continue operating our haunt with our lives being so different than when we started. Becki and Al’s careers have changed. Emily and Darrin now have young children. It was a difficult decision, but we knew it was time to bring closure to our beloved haunt. As bittersweet as it is, this season marks our 10th anniversary, and the final season of Dreadwood Haunted Forest.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us, volunteered with us, and enjoyed our haunted trail. We are grateful to you and so proud of what we have done together. This experience will live on in our hearts forever.
The Dreadwood Board,
Darrin Johnson, Becki LeMire, Alan Madison, and Emily Gerbig