The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Round Barn of Terror

A Good Witch and her pet mummy entertain young ladies waiting their turn through the Round Barn of Terror
Friday night at it seemed like the thing to do was sample a haunted house. After all, it’s Halloween season, and we do live near a ghost-town (Gettysburg, Pa.).

So off we went, a friend with her five-year-old Alex and I with the seven-year-old, almost eight, granddaughter Ari.

The two girls had not previously met, and they hit it off immediately, exploring the first floor market and climbing on straw bales while we waited our turns in the second-floor, and talking with the witch at the ticket table. Finally, it was time.

Alex made it all the way through, clinging tightly to Mommy, and nearly knocking the walls down at one point. Ari got about half way and insisted, “I want to leave.” Actually, she’d begun to strongly suggest it before the half-way mark, her arms wrapped ’round my neck like those necklaces we see in the movies shackling captive girls to stone walls, her eyes scrunched tightly, except when she’d peek, see what was next, and scrunch again.

But when, well — I won’t give it away, but …

It was, I suggest, worth the money, even not counting the groups that get a portion of the fee. The Round Barn of Terror supports — and some of the cast are volunteers from — several non-profit groups around the county. Among those to benefit have been Littlestown Girls Volleyball Club, Black Sox baseball, and the Biglerville Honor Society.

To get to the round barn — by the way, the only one in the county and an historic structure in its own right — travel west about eight miles on U.S. 30 from Gettysburg. At the blinking light, turn right and go about another half mile. As they say in the country: you can’t miss it.

One of only a few round barns remaining in the nation, it was built in 1914 by the Noah Sheely family to replace a conventional barn consumed by fire.

Now it’s owned by Knouse Fruitlands, of Arendtsville. The ground floor is a farm market, with baked goods, fresh farm produce and trinkets and toys. The second floor normally is empty.

Except for Friday and Saturday nights in October this year, and maybe next.

There may be some ghosts of the Sheely family still tending the fifty head of cattle that once called the structure home. I think, had the two young ladies been polled, there would have been agreement, even without a knowledge of history.

Kenneth McCommons, of Fayetteville, did a great job assembling a cast of ghosts and ghouls. He’s been doing it 30 years, though this is his first year at the Orrtanna barn.

“I just never grew up,” he told me.

There’s only one more weekend left this year. It’s worth including in the itinerary of corn mazes, hay rides and other outings of the season. And they even supply flashlights for some “haunted shopping” of the ground floor market. Tours start at 6:30 p.m. and continue until 10:30 p.m.

To read more about the Round Barn, visit their website.

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