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The dark side of the Mountain Festival

Annual Spook Trail leads mortals through a haunted forest
by: Marcus Hathcock, This chainsaw-wielding bogeyman may appear menacing, but it's all in good fun at the Spook Trail.

When thinking about the Sandy Mountain Festival, certain images come to mind: the endless food and craft vendors blanketing Meinig Park, the kindly Mountain Man spinning clay pots while expounding Sandy-area folklore, the creative hometown fun of the parade.

But this time of year, you can forget all those happy-go-lucky, Normal Rockwell connotations. The 'dark side' of the Mountain Festival emerges this weekend with the annual Spook Trail at Parker Farms.

From 7 to 10:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 27-29, thrill-seekers will take a hike through a dark, eerie forest full of creepy characters, scary scenes and a series of bone-chilling surprises.

Instead of the Mountain Man telling stories, a fortune-teller gives boys and ghouls a glimpse of the future before they enter the woods. Instead of a parade, knowledgeable guides lead the never-ending procession of humans along the nearly pitch black trail.

While it's difficult to predict what will happen on the Spook Trail, event organizers say that mortals of all ages will encounter a series of scary scenes, some of which take them inside the creepiest parts of classic and contemporary horror films.

Mrs. Bates and the 'Psycho' cast of characters won't be on hand this year - they're out-of-date, says Spook Trail Chairman Martin Montgomery - but watch out for the mad scientist, the spider woman, a witch and an executioner, among many others waiting behind dark corners. Two all-new scenes will provide extra-special surprises, Montgomery says.

But the scenes aren't what will have hikers jumping out of their skin, Montgomery says.

'Scenes are more the fun part,' he said. 'The scary portion of it is the people jumping out at you in the dark.'

A truly all-ages event, the Spook Trail can be tooled for teenagers wanting the full fear factor, or for little pumpkins wanting a funnier, less-frightening experience. Parents just have to say the word to the guide.

Despite the trail's horrific offerings, the event has a 100-percent survival rate and a smile rate that's pretty close to that.

'This is our dark side coming out,' said Mountain Festival Committee President Vicky Mills. 'The artists do their art in the park (during the July festival). We do it here.'

Mills said her family, the Parkers, have hosted the Spook Trail most of her life as a family event.

'I've always loved Halloween,' Mills said. 'For us, it's bigger than Christmas.'

The trail is not open on Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Cost for the Mountain Festival Spook Trail is $5, and children younger than 5 enter free when accompanied by a paying adult. Proceeds benefit Mount Hood Kiwanis Camp, a summer getaway for children and adults with disabilities. Clackamas County Bank sponsors the event.

Parker Farms is located at 13220 S.E. 362nd Ave. in Boring. To learn more about the Spook Trail, to get directions to Parker Farms or to volunteer to help with the event, visit www.sandymountainfestival.org or call the Mountain Festival hotline, 503-668-5900. The hotline's voicemail is checked regularly.