Spooktacular a hit at Pioneer Trail Park

WELLS — In September 2012, Steve Wery, Delta County Parks manager, initiated what has become a yearly tradition for many Delta County residents — Pioneer Trail Park’s Annual Halloween Spooktacular. The first event drew approximately 50 campers into the campground. In the last seven years, the park’s fundraiser has grown tremendously.

“Delta County Parks begins open reservations on March 1 each year. This season, there was a line at 7 a.m. — with everyone trying to secure a spot for the Halloween (Spooktacular) weekend. The improved campsites were booked by the end of the day,” said Lori Mathews, park office manager.

“Everyone wants to be here for the Halloween Spooktacular,” said Emily Johnson, parks assistant. “The adults, as well as the kids, have a great time.”

The day begins with a pumpkin carving contest, followed by costume contests, games and prizes. At dusk, the children trick or treat, camper to camper, and the day ends with the best decorated site awards.

“It’s crazy how everyone decorates their sites. Some people pick themes, like pirates or circus clowns. It truly is something to see,” Johnson said.

“Every year, we try to do something new, just to keep things interesting,” Wery said, “Last year we held a pie-eating contest for the adults. I was amazed at how many people signed up.”

The Halloween Spooktacular is a huge undertaking for the park staff. The event takes months to prepare. Games are planned and built before the park even opens. Entertainment, refreshments and prizes are all provided by the goodwill of community sponsors.

“Even the pumpkins are paid through donations, but securing the sponsorship takes a lot of time and we have to squeeze it in between the daily maintenance of five county parks,” said Wery.

This year, the Upper Peninsula Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Fund, through the Community Foundation, awarded a grant to help fund the program.

“It is a much needed and much appreciated contribution and will really help in making the event special for our families.” According to Wery, the mission of the Halloween Spooktacular is to create an opportunity for family bonding and the making of memories to last a lifetime.

The 7th Annual Halloween Spooktacular is being held at Pioneer Trail Park on Saturday, Sept. 22, for campers registered at Pioneer Trail Park and Fuller Campground. Hopefully, in the near future, campers registered at the proposed ORV park at Rapid River will be able to participate as well.

“Unfortunately, we cannot open the event to non-campers. There would be no way to estimate how many more people the event would draw and as of now, we are at maximum capacity,” said Wery.

Pioneer sites with electric and water are booked, however there are still a few rustic sites. There are also available sites at Fuller. Reservations for next year’s Spooktacular will begin on March 1, 2019.