The second annual (of many, many future) Taste of Terror haunted house event (TasteOfTerrorMN.com) will be taking place the last two weekends of September in the 4-H building at the Sherburne County Fairgrounds. This event, run by the Big Lake Cheer Booster, is a truly terrifying and fun way to raise money for the student athletes to compete around the nation.
About the Event
Coach Derek Nelson said that in 2020, at the first annual Taste of Terror event, 27 patrons left with ruined pants.
“This year,” he said, “we want to get to 100.”
Teenagers can be somewhat twisted at times, as the ideas created and brought to life by the cheerleading team proves. At last year’s event, some spooky aspects of the haunted house included a maze with moving walls, a spooky clown (played by another coach) who chased patrons through the halls, and a lot of clever, spooky atmospherics that add up to a truly scary experience.
“One family went in last year determined not to be scared,” Nelson recalled, talking about one of the braver groups to traverse the haunted house. “The actors didn’t scare them, they were very brave.”
That is until the mom of the group froze in her tracks, staring at what seemed like an ordinary barrel, a harmless prop. But there was something wrong. The cheerleading team had put a speaker inside the barrel, playing a track of a child crying for his mother and trying to get out.
These are just a few of the scares that were in store for Big Lake Area thrill-seekers, and this year, Nelson promised that the team was going to double down on the spooks.
Those who don’t have a stomach for some of the more psychological horror cooked up by the athletes don’t need to stay away, however. The team will be offering three levels of haunt, and the actors inside the house will know how much of a scare to induce based on a signal. One knock means the patron is looking for a mild scare, two knocks means a patron is ready to be spooked.
Three knocks? That’s when the team advises bringing a change of clothes.
In addition to the haunted house, the team plans to sell concessions and have food trucks, so those who need a break from the terror, or who aren’t interested in entering the house, can eat, socialize, and take in the atmosphere of Halloween decor and roaming teenage actors.
This year, the Hornet cheerleaders also created a “family haunt.” They dialed-back the terror to invite parents and kids of all ages to trick-or-treat inside the house and enjoy the concessions, food trucks, and DJ Monster Mash dance without worry of being scared. The family-friendly haunt goes until 6:45 in the evening.
The team also offers a “scare-repellent,” which indicates an individual who would prefer to be left alone by the actors.
The name of the event, Taste of Terror, refers to the oddly early nature of the event. To some, it might seem that late September is just a bit early for the Halloween fun to begin. But Nelson disagrees.
“There are so many haunted houses and hay rides in October,” he said.
The team didn’t want to step on the toes of other groups, many of whom are raising money for their own causes. So, they decided to offer a “taste” of terror as the spooky season comes around.
The Family Haunt will cost five dollars per guest, while the Chaos Haunt afterwards will cost eight dollars per guest for preorder, or $10 at the door. “Scare Repellent” and “Turbo Terror Passes” (fast pass) will also be available.
And all the proceeds go to an excellent cause.
About the Team
Last year, the Big Lake Cheer Varsity Team placed third in the nation for their division, and the JV team was no slouch either, placing seventh in the nation. With all the craziness of the pandemic, the athletes doubled down on extra practices at home, and were hyper-vigilant about having clear communications with their teammates, therefore turning a pandemic that could have ruined their season into an excellent opportunity to excel.
Nelson believes the students will continue to show what Hornets are made of on a national level, but the team needs funds to do so. Projects like Taste of Terror and the Spud Fest Talent Show (also hosted by the cheer team) really help to pay for the team to attend all the competitions they can.
Nelson said that his hope for the team is that these two events will eventually pay for all of the team’s monetary needs, so the students can spend the rest of the year practicing and giving back to the community, such as helping to clean up local parks and hosting fun events for Big Lake Area kids. In 2019, the team was awarded the Kasner’s Kirk Duchenne award for their community service.