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Back in the mid “noughties,” Richard Cottier responded to a newspaper advertisement from farmer Mark Edwards seeking someone to produce a simple Halloween event at his farm park near Ormskirk, Lancashire. Six years later, Farmaggedon (not to be confused with an attraction of a similar same name in Texas) has become the UK’s busiest seasonal scare attraction, giving visitors to Farmer Ted’s the fright of their lives on a nightly basis throughout

October. Here Richard, or the ‘Darklord’ as Farmaggedon guests know him (pictured here with the ‘Hellfire Harlots’), reveals how this

adults-only event has brought terror to the farm


t wasn't just exhibitor numbers that were up, but exhibitors too. A record 272 companies participated in the show, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday, January 30 to February 1, forcing organisers to add a third hall at the last minute. “We are extremely pleased with these results,” reported Emmanuel Mongon, chairman of the EAS board. “The visitors were there, and all the main players were there. People were happy, and I think it's not only because of the show, but because there is something happening again in the industry.”


ark Edwards, who ultimately is Farmer Ted, was looking for something to carry the park through the low season between summer and Christmas. He advertised for someone to come along and produce a Halloween event for children. Over the years it’s developed into something quite different! We started out with The Corridor of Fear, which was just a little grotto that we put a few people through, but it sparked interest and we thought we might be onto something. Then we did Terror on the Farm. Our best scare was scraping a spade on the floor and then chasing the customers. Farmaggedon was a little bit of a step up, and no one knew what to expect. On the first night we had the grand total of 34 people turn up. We got so excited when one car pulled up, but then we scared them and they turned around and drove away again!


After last year's event in Vienna, when visitor numbers plummeted more than 40%, the 2007 Euro Attractions Show (EAS) in Seville had to be good. It was certainly busy, attracting a record 7,400-plus guests according to preliminary figures released by co-organiser IAAPA. But were they the right visitors? Owen Ralph reports from the Fibes Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Now we have an audience that returns year on year, bringing new people with them. As much as we have learned ourselves, the education of the audience has also been very important in regards to what Halloween is, what a scare attraction is, and how you behave. As the supermarkets have really got behind Halloween, it’s popularity has surged and it looks like becoming the second holiday in the UK after Christmas. We have very much embraced the American model for haunted attractions and go over there a lot to get inspiration. It’s also the only place we can really get hold of the props and materials we need. Although the British industry is still many years behind America with its 30,000 registered haunts, we are on the same curve; we can see what they were doing five years ago and hopefully feed it back into the British market.

Fun ‘n’ fright

As much as we will give you a scare and a fright, around the corner there is going to be something that will make you laugh, which the Americans do so well.

36 OCTOBER 2013 FARMAGGEDON Creating terror on the farm since 2007

There can be a propensity in this country to take Halloween too seriously, and for us it is very important that there is also a lighter element, and actually it widens your demographic. One of our characters, for instance, is a granny with a catheter and a Zimmer frame who chases you around trying to give you a kiss. Now that’s not a traditional Halloween character, but everyone wants a kiss off granny and to have their photo taken with her. From a marketing point of view that’s great because people will share those pictures on Facebook with all their friends. We have three haunted houses and run with the same names each year but always try to up the theming and the detail, and change a few rooms etc. Terror on The Farm is very much a traditional horror affair with vampires etc. We have Insanity, which is your walking dead genre, a very simple premise with zombies coming to get you! And then there is Psychosis, which is home to the more the freaky stuff. You’ve got clowns in there, men wearing nappies, a bunny chasing you, stuff that is just going to freak you out. Psychosis was always the slightly smaller of the three houses, but this year we’ve doubled it in size. We’ve also got a whole new façade at the entrance to the park for our dancers, the Hellfire Harlots. Coming from a theatre background, I had good access to actors and performers, but it would be a lie not to say I was calling in favours left right and centre when we started. But as things progressed, it became less and less difficult to recruit people. Initially we stared with paid performers, but as we have grown I was getting more and more applications from people who said, “I’ve got a day job, but you know what, I just love the horror industry and I’d like to get involved.” We run with 110 performers every night, from a pool of over 200. Now as a business model

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