Halloween less spooky with loss of Grim Acres

·3 min read

As the old adage goes, all good things come to an end. The same might be said for all spooky things, now that Brian and Amber Sutherland, owners of the Grim Acres haunted maze and yard, have decided to close their Halloween attraction for good.

As a previous article in The Brandon Sun stated, the couple announced on the Grim Acres Facebook Page on Aug. 26 that they made a “very difficult” decision to end their annual “Scare Away Cancer” haunted event.

The event included attractions such as the Awakening, an abandoned, 1,400-square-foot house featuring three floors; CarnEVIL, an indoor, kid-friendly carnival; Phobia, a 1,400-square-foot blackout maze; Beyond Darkness, a 3,000-square-foot pole barn divided into 13 theme rooms and a snack shack.

Brian Sutherland told the Sun that knowing how much the event meant to the community made the decision a hard one.

“So many people just loved coming out there for fun and to support a good cause.”

In the 12 years that the attractions ran, Sutherland said more than $130,000 was raised for the Canadian Cancer Society, even with having to close for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To be able to do what we have done with the years we have is amazing,” Sutherland said, adding that people in Westman have always been extremely generous when it came to supporting the event in the name of helping those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

“As far as the lengths people have gone to help us, it’s amazing … it absolutely speaks to the spirit of Westman.”

When the Sutherlands first started the event, they didn’t expect it to be as big as it was.

The couple even ended up moving out to the Kemnay area, 13 kilometres west of Brandon, to expand on the scares they offered to the community.

In the end, though, the financial burden, as well as the toll that it took on the Sutherlands’ health and well-being, was behind the couple’s decision to bid farewell to their Halloween festivities, Sutherland said.

He added that running Grim Acres cost the couple roughly $60,000 of their own money since it began.

“We don’t take any money back for our donations,” Sutherland explained.

The couple decided to never charge an entry fee for the event, and 100 per cent of their donations have always gone to the Canadian Cancer Society.

“It’s no longer sustainable for us,” Sutherland added.

But while the couple is hanging their Halloween hats up for good, that doesn’t mean they’re done with their philanthropic work for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Sutherland said he and his wife will remain actively involved in their Superheroes Against Cancer Alliance outreach program, something he said he is very proud of. Sutherland has even created a comic book that is sent to children who are battling cancer from all over the world.

The couple also announced in their Facebook post that they’re looking into other fundraising events, such as hosting a movie under the stars evening sometime in the future.

A yard sale is planned for Sept. 24-25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the former Phobia/CarnEVIL haunt at Grim Acres. Sutherland said the couple will be selling off all their props, Halloween costumes and decor at “fair market closeout pricing.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun