The Halloween season kicks off in the Elgin area with the Big Timber Brew Fest at Camp Big Timber on Saturday, before kicking into high gear with events every weekend leading up to the big day.
The beer party is one of three adult-oriented camp events that make up the Big Timber Pumpkin Fest, all raising money for the Boy Scouts of America’s Three Fires Council.
Katie Clark, the council’s director of support services, said the Brew Fest will feature music, lawn games, food trucks and vendors selling a variety of beers, ciders and seltzer. The warehouse is located at 37W955 Big Timber Road in Elgin.
The following weekend, the camp opens its biggest Pumpkin Festival attraction, The Halloween Experience, a haunted drive-through trail. It will operate Friday and Saturday nights through October before there is a final Halloween night, which this year is Monday October 31st.
The camp hosted haunted walks for about 30 years, then switched to a haunted drive-thru setup in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark said. It proved so popular that more than 10,000 cars took part in the attraction in 2020 and 2021, she said.
“This year we decided to work with another company and make the drive-thru more family-friendly,” Clark said.
Event organizer Nick Timber said: “It is our goal that everyone from the age of 1 to 100 can come and enjoy all the exciting Halloween sights and sounds that we put together during the nearly mile long drive through the woods .”
The route will feature 50 scenes featuring inflatable clowns, dinosaurs, insects, monsters and zombies, along with a music and light show, Timber said. Each vehicle gets a pumpkin at a drive-thru pumpkin patch.
“Instead of actors banging on your car windows, guests at the all-new event can experience stunning lighting and huge Halloween exhibits,” said Timber.
The Halloween experience is one of three events co-promoted online at Elgin Haunt Central, www.elginhauntcentral.com, Clark said.
It is coupled with the City of Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street, a downtown zombie-themed street fair for those ages 17 and older on Saturday, October 30, and the Evil Intentions Haunted House, which is designed for teens and adults alike opens on Friday September 30th. 30, in the former Elgin Casket Factory, 300 Grace St.
The Three Fires Council is also hosting two other adult Pumpkin Fest events: Barrels & Bones on Saturday 15th October and the Big Timber Murder Mystery on Saturday 22nd October.
Barrels & Bones will feature bourbons from eight distilleries, Clark said. The gathering takes place at the camp’s lodge and includes tastings, a spirit sipping and cured meats area, indoor and outdoor activities, and music.
The following weekend’s crime thriller is called The Curse of Treasure Creek, and it’s pirate-themed, Clark said. Patrons are encouraged to dress in their best pirate garb.
Halloween-related events have proven profitable for the Three Fires Council, which raised about $250,000 for the nonprofit in 2020 and 2021, Clark said.
Visit www.bigtimberpumpkinfest.org for more information.
Mike Danahey is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.