Haunted woods

Photos: Ox-Bow

By Kelsey Smith

Ghosts and goblins and witches — oh my! Spooky thrills don’t fall short during Halloween at Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency in Saugatuck. The organization is hosting its third annual year of Halloween festivities on Oct. 29–31. In 2019, Ox-Bow put on a haunted house and last year, it created a Spooky Trail.

This year, the organization is turning it up a notch. The 2021 event, “Ox-Bow Goes to Hell,” will offer both haunted cabins and the trail, plus a few exciting new additions, like a Graveyard Rave.

“The creative and twisted minds at Ox-Bow will bring to life — or maybe ‘unlife’ — another set of creepy, beautiful and bizarre scenes along the Spooky Trail,” said Mac Akin, campus manager and mastermind behind the Halloween events. “There may be some returning specters previous guests may have seen before — some of the ghosts really like it here and tend to stick around.”

“Ox Bow Goes to Hell” is family-friendly and for all ages, but some parts may be scary for younger guests. This year, there will be a family day — “Ox-Bow Goes to Heck” — which will include a matinee haunt for children.

The inspiration behind the Halloween events comes from Akin, who grew up with a love for all things spooky.

“I have loved Halloween ever since I was a kid — I used to fall asleep every night listening to Goosebumps books on cassettes and I still have some of the merch from the Goosebumps Book Club,” Akin said. “Some cool parents in the area I grew up in organized a kid-centric event around Halloween they called the ‘Spooky Trail’ on a well-loved hiking trail, which I always looked forward to.

“It wasn’t quite as much of a production as what we did here in 2020, but I do remember it tickling my imagination and it certainly left a mark. I wanted to honor this memory by calling our haunted woods the ‘Spooky Trail.’”

Ox-Bow’s Halloween events are almost entirely organized by staff, with the help of some volunteers. The organization is currently looking for more volunteers and artists-in-residence to contribute to art installations; visit Ox-Bow’s website for more information.

“The love for Halloween and idea for this event — as with anything really — is to capture the imagination and inspire a sense of joy, transcendence and wonder,” Akin said. “It’s not always the cute and cuddly things, straight and proper channels, or expected and known outcomes that invoke these basic and profound feelings — often I find that it’s quite the contrary. 

“There’s something magical about facing the unknown even if it’s all just pretend. With care and safety in mind, I hope that the Halloween hellscapes that Ox-Bow creates now and beyond spark a fire of curiosity in the hearts of all who come through, even if sometimes it looks terrifying.”

Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency

Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency
3435 Rupprecht Way, Saugatuck

2021 schedule of events:

Friday, Oct. 29 
Ox-Bow Goes to Hell: Haunted cabins + Spooky Trail

Saturday, Oct. 30 
Ox-Bow Goes to Hell: 
Haunted cabins + Spooky Trail + Graveyard Rave

Sunday, Oct. 31 
Ox-Bow Goes to Heck: Matinee haunt for the kiddos 
Visit Ox-Bow’s website for information on times and ticket pricing.