Ghoulish glee: Haunting provides scary good time

Even nonchalant teenagers have been startled right out of their cool composure when the headless horseman peers out of the darkness from above them — and then the black beast regally rears up.

Such a Halloween fear factor is all in good fun for Cheryl Shireman. She’s the playful overseer of The Haunting at Shireman Homestead, Columbus’ way-ghoul monster mashup of elements to turn the night into a complete fright.

It all unfolds at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings through October, rain or shine, at the Shireman property, 7060 W. County Road 200N. A $5 nonscary young children’s time is slated from 5 to 6 p.m.

For now, call Shireman the chair of Scare. She loves this time of year. Shireman adores kids and could cackle at the chance to shock the bejeebers out of you — in a nice way, of course.

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Without her headless horseman gear that turns her all anonymous and mysterious, she has been told she looks like an exuberant cheerleader. And, truth be told, she is. A cheerleader for fun, if you will.

“Oh, I’m so excited,” she said in a lilting voice.

And why not be excited? She already entertained about 300 customers last weekend, with visitors coming from as far away as Fort Wayne and Greensburg to experience her farm’s 45-minute tour. Tickets, at $12 apiece, are available onsite or at Sam’s Club, 2715 Merchant Mile in Columbus, about three miles from the Shireman farm.

The price includes a makeshift mine shaft elevator that gives visitors the feeling of descending quickly into the earth; the farm’s live animals dressed as Halloween-style characters from witches to elephants — all in Shireman’s handmade outfits; a spooky Western town, including one farmhouse with a weird, upside-down interior; a spooky slaughterhouse; and of course, the aforementioned horseman, and a ghost rider to boot.

There’s more, too. But you’ll just have to come and see.

“I don’t want to give all the secrets away,” Shireman said. “But it’s spectacular.”

Visitors don’t want to spoil it for others, either. But they want to share their enthusiasm for the 200-acre nonprofit place that Shireman uses other times of the year partly as a educational tool on Hoosier rural life.

“We absolutely loved it,” Brown County resident Victoria Mace said. “People will see that the headless horseman kind of comes out of nowhere. He snuck around and turned up right behind me all of the sudden — and it was kind of creepy.”

She and her daughter, Brieauna Mace, 14, already are considering returning this weekend.

“It was awesome,” the teen said.

Her favorite part: being chased by crazies with chain saws — without the actual blades, of course.

In her dreams, Shireman hopes for 1,000 visitors in one night. Goodness knows there’s plenty of room and plenty of parking on her spread-out land.

Flat Rock resident Ernie Leonard said he might return with friends soon. He visited last weekend after having seen it in years past.

“There’s a few more added attractions,” Leonard said.

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What: The Haunting at nonprofit Shireman Homestead, a 45-minute Halloween tour with a headless horseman, a ghost rider, wagon rides, miniature horses and other animals dressed for the season, a spooky Western town, and other activities.

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October. Non-scary tour for younger children from 5 to 6 p.m.

Where: 7060 W. County Road 200N. Take Jonathan Moore Pike to County Road 325 West. Left onto County Road 200 North.

Admission: $12 for the regular tour and offerings; $5 for the non-scary tour.

Information: 812-372-2946 or or the Facebook page at The Hautning at Shireman Homestead.