History and Horror

Headless Horseman Festival provides Halloween tricks and treats

Posted on Oct 02 2019 in General, Travel
The sight of the Headless Horseman elicits shrieks from Conner Prairie visitors. Photo courtesy of Conner Prairie.

By Richard G. Biever

Haunted houses and creepy corn mazes are crawling with chain-saw slinging Jasons, razor-fingered Freddy Kruegers, and other gory ghouls from Hollywood this time of year. But as you might expect from a living history museum, Conner Prairie digs a little deeper into American fright night folklore to scare up its brand of the heebie-jeebies.

Every year since the 1980s, the Headless Horseman has spurred down the shadowy autumn trails around Conner Prairie’s 1836 village past wagonloads of wide-eyed visitors.

“He’s just one of the classic figures of Halloween,” notes Mark Wehlage, senior manager of programs at Conner Prairie. “He’s that specter that’s frightening and terrifying, yet not as terrifying as the modern-day Freddy or Jason or those kinds of things. It’s just a classic American story that is a great way to celebrate Halloween.”

Conner Prairie, the renowned Smithsonian-affiliated history village and museum in Fishers, will be hosting its Headless Horseman Festival over three extended weekends: Oct 10-13, Oct. 17-20, and Oct. 24-27. Despite the passing apparition, the eight to 12-minute hayride is considered family friendly for all.

Other festival attractions include: storytelling, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow marionette show, a magic show and a mad science show, a barrel-train ride for youngsters, a midway with Halloween-themed carnival games, a 12-acre Corn Maze — featuring a regular maze and a haunted maze, and much more. The Corn Maze was voted one of the country’s 10 best corn mazes by USA Today readers.

The Haunted Corn Maze is the festival’s scary feature geared toward teens and young adults reared on the intense haunting experiences.

For this year’s celebration, Wehlage suggested visitors, especially those coming from outside the Indianapolis metro area, make a full day of the Conner Prairie offerings. He urges folks to take in all the regular outdoor museum, programs and fun during the daytime hours. Then come back for the festival in the evening. (Note that separate tickets are required.)

RICHARD G. BIEVER is senior editor of Indiana Connection

If you go …

Conner Prairie Headless Horseman Festival

Oct. 10-13, 17-20, 24-27; 6-9 p.m.

13400 Allisonville Road
Fishers, IN 46038

317-776-6000 or 800-966-1836

Advanced and presale tickets can be purchased online at https://www.connerprairie.org/

Enter our giveaway!

Enter to win a Family Fun Pack of four tickets to “A Merry Prairie Holiday” from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31, courtesy of Conner Prairie.

Visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests to enter.