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Local men volunteer to scare

A Cottage Grove and Newport man are busy scaring lots of metro-area kids for a good cause this Halloween season at the Fright Farm in Maplewood.

Dan Wolfgram, of Cottage Grove, and Chris Vick, of Newport, are two of the builders and actors in the scary maze, which benefits D.A.R.E. in Ramsey County.

Members of the county's sheriff's department and other volunteers organize, build and act at "Fright Farm" during the month before Halloween to raise more than $60,000 for the intervention program to prevent youth chemical abuse.

They work hard at their trade, which includes a lot of black paint, duck tape, lumber, extension cords and black plastic, at what was formerly part of the Ramsey County Poor Farm.

In a barn that is on the National Historic Register, volunteers begin to transform the barn after the county fair.

Volunteers work evenings and on Saturdays to make sure trips through the "farm" are scary for kids of all ages.

"We also watch horror movies and go to haunted houses," Wolfgram said.

When the show opened last Friday night, Vick and Wolfgram transformed from builders to actors.

Wolfgram has been involved since Fright Farm's beginning 14 years ago when he was a police officer. Now running a group home, he stayed involved because he loves acting.

There is a different maze every year, Wolfgram said.

This year, from the time period author Jules Verne wrote about, the first part of the maze has a "time machine."

Last week, Wolfgram was still perfecting his costume, as the eccentric millionaire owner of the time machine but was ready to go opening night with Montgomery Livingston as his stage name.

Designed with advice from Artistic Director Mike Lopez, the "fright" adventure begins in the parlor of the millionaire's house where spooky Wolfgram welcomes his visitors to enter the machine. What follows is a journey through a maze of murky sewers and steam pipes.

"I like to hang around morgues," Lopez said, jokingly. "And I love going to funerals. We scare you with what you see and what you don't see."

Vick, one of 15 to 20 actors, has a room of his own in the maze, where he acts as a vampire.

"I'm hoping my costume will work," Vick said, "so that no one looks up and says 'oh, that's Becky's dad.'"

Vick has a swimming pool business, and enjoys building the maze, but he also likes acting.

"It's a blast," he said. "I try to get someone really scared at least once a night."

Both men agree that the experience is worth giving up free time for over two months.

"This is our license to be kids again," Wolfgram said.

If you go

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Fright Farm is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween.

It's located on the Ramsey County Fairgrounds at 2020 White Bear Ave. in Maplewood.

Admission for everyone is $7.

For more information, go to www.frightfarm.org.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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