Halloween is not a small holiday. The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers are already in the throes of spending $9.1 billion on this year’s spooky celebration.
According to the federation’s annual Halloween survey, the largest expense by shoppers will be $3.4 billion on costumes, followed by $2.7 billion on candy and another $2.7 billion for decorations. Customers will also spend $410 million on Halloween-themed greeting cards, according to the survey.
One of those avid decorators and costumers is Johnette Coe of Stockton.
Several years ago, Coe was responsible for the Town of Stockton’s haunted history ride. It included a spooky tour of Stockton’s old cemetery and historical buildings, including the jail and courthouse.
It ended at the Alex Baker Memorial Park, where there were vendors, games, pumpkin painting and other activities, as well as costumed pirate and fairy tale characters, courtesy of the Intermountain Renaissance Arts Foundation.
Last year, Coe turned over the haunted ride to her daughter, Mandy Brown.
Brown reached out to the cast of Reaching Education through Arts, Characters and Heroes — REACH — a non-profit organization she leads, to help her put on a haunted event in Stockton.
For 2017, Brown decided to move the Halloween event to the Bit ‘n’ Spur rodeo grounds in Tooele City.
Now named “Haunted History at the Rodeo Grounds,” REACH’s event will run this Saturday from noon until approximately 6 p.m.
Pirates, knights and sirens, along with other historical figures and legendary heroes, will wander the rodeo grounds during the event, according to Brown.
Along with a variety of vendors, REACH characters will tell haunted history stories and teach about history, including the use of medieval siege weaponry like the ballista, trebuchet, and onager, she said.
Participants may get a chance to take a jab at a quintain, a medieval tool for training knights for joisting.
There is no entrance fee for the Haunted History at the Rodeo Grounds, Brown said.
However, REACH, which is an IRS tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, will accept donations to help with its educational mission, according to Brown.
Using costumed characters, REACH puts on interactive education programs in Utah schools. Its members teach literacy, art, history, and anti-bullying, according to Brown.
As part of the anti-bullying program, King Arthur goes into elementary classrooms and teaches students about building a roundtable of friends and the importance of supporting each other.
REACH taught around 250 lessons in nearly 100 schools last year, according to Brown.
The Bit ‘n’ Spur Rodeo Grounds is located at 240 W. 500 North in Tooele City.