Fun, Fear On The Farm

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

Fall has arrived at the farm.

Cotton bolls are beginning to burst open. Pumpkins grow on the vines. The donkeys are braying, the goats bleating and chickens cackling.

Days are growing shorter, but there's more than cooler temperatures to bring goose pimples to those who visit the 32-acre hillside plot.

The farmer is dead. Whodunnit? How?

At Deep Well Farm at 9567 Highway 11, just outside the Lenoir City limits, visitors have begun arriving to discover the mysteries hidden deep inside the corn maze. The newest attraction at Deep Well Farm is FSI - Farm Scene Investigation. Farm visitors of all ages will find clues inside the corn maze to discover who killed Farmer Joe.

Of course, they still may experience the hay rides through the farm to the cotton patch, the petting zoo and to pick pumpkins from the fields. And when they leave the corn maze, they can play on a giant slide on the hillside.

Deep Well Farm is open in daytime, and it caters to younger children. The gates opened two weeks ago, providing educational tours, hayrides and fun places to play for classes of children.

This year is the second for operation of Deep Well Farm, an educational agri-tourism attraction run by Ann and V.W Linginfelter. The couple began developing the farm after they saw the phenomenal success of adjacent Dead Man's Farm, a haunted house attraction by their son Jeff Linginfelter.

"We laughed when Jeff told us what he wanted to do here," Ann said. "We thought he was joking."

They are not laughing anymore.

In fact, the attractions have grown each year, and the entire family is involved.

Son Ray Linginfelter and his family opened Haunted Hayride of Horror last year,  but his attraction has evolved.

"Last year, it was just the hayride, but this year, there's a haunted house, Massacre House," Ray said. "Last year, we started in October, but this year, we open Sept. 30."

Jeff began Dead Man's Farm three years ago, and thousands visited in the first two years. New attractions have come as well. Returning visitors will find a new story line, new special effects and new fun activities, Jeff said. This year, a band of gypsies have come the farm where the Bludgeon family carried out their horrific activities. Two gypsy fortune tellers and fire eaters will be entertaining visitors outside who are waiting to tour the house of horror.

The biggest challenge of operating, Jeff said, has been learning how to coordinate and entertain waiting participants and keep lines moving. The two haunted houses utilize an army of volunteers -  a total of about 70 actors work for Dead Man's Farm alone, 45 will be working on any given night. The actors come from Lenoir City, Farragut and Loudon, mostly from acting and theater classes.

With eerie and sometimes disturbing scenes with blood and gore, both haunted houses are better suited for ages 12 and up.

They come by carloads and busloads - from Nashville, Crossville, Atlanta, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama, Jeff said.  He surmised that the success of the haunted house attraction possibly rests in the fact that the place really is haunted. He's had volunteers and visitors who became frightened at inexplicable events.

V.W. told of his unsettling experiences before the "Dead Man's Farm" attraction was ever conceived. "Sometimes I'd be working in the barn and hear somebody come up. I'd say, 'hello?' and go out and nobody would be there. It happened a lot."

Jeff said three paranormal investigation teams of ghost-busters have been out, and reported that they found paranormal activity.

"People experience things they don't understand," Jeff said. "Somebody will touch them on the shoulder. People have been here at night and herd people on the gravel and nobody would be there."

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