Halloween chills await at Waseca’s Maplewood Park in an event that will send money back into the community.

Sinister Forest comes to Maplewood Park for the first time this year over the last two weekends of the month.

The event takes place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 20 and 21 and at the same time on Oct. 27 and 28. Admission is $10. The event is not recommended for children under 10.

Sinister Forest is organized by Lost in the Dark, made up of the creators of the Haunted Corn Maze at Farmamerica. That event was suspended for this year at Farmamerica, as its board decided it no didn’t align with the center’s vision in its current form.

Lost in the Dark’s Steve Bakken said that rather than making changes to the event, it was decided that the event and Farmamerica would part ways.

“At that point, I was ready to just hang it up and say it was a good run,” Bakken said.

But the organizers heard a strong response from the community, insisting the event should continue. Given the choice of making the event a private enterprise or a public fundraiser, the organizers opted for the latter option and reached out to the city.

“We wanted to do this in a way that would give back to the community somehow,” Bakken said.

City Manager Danny Lenz suggested Maplewood Park and organizers met with Parks Supervisor Brad Dushaw to tour the park, which they found a very fitting location.

“It has pretty much everything we need,” he said. “Several trails shoot off from the main road. We’ve planned out a route that utilizes those trails. They’ll loop through the lot at the top and then re-enter, using the inner trails.”

On those trails, there are a few older buildings that Bakken says will fit the event, and the main lodge at the top offers a convergence point at the end.

“At Farmamerica, we always had vendors and picnic tables as a place for everybody to eat and talk about (their experience),” Bakken said. “That lodge is perfect. There’s a fireplace in there and we do have permission to have a fire. We just have to make sure it’s going to work.”

A local vendor will park at the top of a hill, allowing attendees to purchase food before entering the lodge.

“There’s going to be a lot of familiarity for anyone who has been to the Farmamerica event,” said Bakken.

There will be some familiar faces, as most of the staff involved in the past is coming back.

The biggest difference is that there won’t be a maze due to the fact that the location doesn’t allow for that.

Proceeds from the event will go toward Fourth of July fireworks, a destination that was decided upon in meetings with City Manager Danny Lenz.

“I said the city knows what it needs more than I do and my only stipulation is that money goes back into the community,” Bakken said.

Lenz told Bakken that fireworks are tough to get funding for because there isn’t a regular fundraiser for it and assistance from local businesses is solicited.

The money may go to different causes in years to come.

“We’ll go year by year and wherever the need arises, that’s where the money will go,” Bakken said.

He hopes the event will grow and has already received calls from people outside of town interested in the event.

One of the things organizers have been able to do this year that they haven’t in years past is cooperate with a lot of local businesses.

“We needed a lot of startup capital this year because we were starting from zero,” said Bakken.

Businesses that donate to the event get a link to their website from Sinister Forest’s.

Organizers hope participation in this event leads attendees to patronize other businesses while they’re out that night.

“We’re trying to send more money into community while the event is going. Hopefully that’ll help the community market with us,” Bakken said. “Hopefully it’ll be kind of a snowball effect and this event will continue to grow year after year.”

Reporter Jacob Stark can be reached at 837-5451 or follow him on Twitter @WCNjacob.

Covering Waseca, Janesville, and New Richland.

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