Gothic Chamber New this Year

By Jennie Acklin

Starting this weekend, Friday, Oct. 3, you’ll hear shrieking screams, high-pitched squeals and nervous laughter from scared stiff groupies even as you approach the Nightmare Hayrides site, known to be the scariest attraction in Western New York.

Nightmare Hayrides on Sommerville St., owned and operated by John and Karen Kent of Ellicottville, has been scaring anyone who dares to come for 24 years now. If you are brave enough to take a tractor-drawn covered hay wagon ride down a dark, eerie path after dark, John promises to “scare you good this year!”

“Once you arrive at the covered wagons this year, we will keep you dry,” said Karen. “The loading and unloading areas are under cover, inside the newly constructed pole buildings. People come by the carloads, whether it’s raining or a sunny day, but it’s a spookier, scarier experience if it’s a rainy, blustery night.”

What’s so scary about a hayride in the dark? Plenty … starting with the all-new Gothic Chamber (no spoilers here – you’ll just have to experience it yourself).

Chainsaws, real skeletons, maggot heads, the Gothic Chamber, the Vortex Tunnel, a wooden Haunted Maze, the Haunted Barn and, of course, the Haunted Hayride through the cornfield with live zombies waiting to snatch you at every turn.

You’re about to find out just how brave you actually are when you tested by an eerie walk through a haunted maze that twists and turns over an acre of haunted countryside. The maze leads directly into the Haunted Barn with disorienting, long dark hallways where monsters hide. You’ll want to bring a friend to share the scares.

Once you survive the maze, chambers, tunnels, hayride and other hauntings, you can laugh off your nervousness at the Cook Shack. Enjoy hot and cold drinks, homemade soup and chili, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chili in a bag, tacos in a bag, and cookies while sharing “and then it popped up out of nowhere” stories and lots of laughs.

“It’s a fun thing to do for the young and old, for families, and for those who like a good scream and lots of laughter!” said Kent.

This scary good experience takes about 40 minutes, and is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Nov. 2.

And if you think you hear the sly snort of a werewolf over your shoulder as you patiently wait to begin your ride, turn slowly … very, very slowly. The ghosts and ghouls even lurk in the boarding and waiting areas. There’s no escape from a good scare!

Nightmare Hayrides take place at the same location as the Ellicottville Rodeo at 6319 Sommerville Valley Rd., just off Sugartown Road, and it only takes a few minutes to get there from the village.

The Nightmare Hayrides run through Nov. 2. No reservations are needed and tickets are $17.

For more information or for group rates, contact John and Karen Kent at Nightmare Hayrides, (716) 699-4839, or visit their website at