If all the world is a stage, in Weston this year the stage became Lachat Town Farm, creating events that are safe and fun for the entire family.
The year didn’t go exactly as planned.
“We had the calendar year all planned out,” said Anita Dinwoodie, Lachat’s events manager. “And then we had to revisit everything and figure out ways to incorporate safe, socially-distanced events that still brought the community together.”
The capstone may have been the Haunted Farm event, a joint effort with WestonArts and the town’s Commission for the Arts.
The aim was an event that would make up for an essentially-canceled Halloween, reaching older children and families. The result was a successful three-night sold out experience, brought to you by a village of artists, creatives, and generally community-loving people.
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Patricia Perez-Goodrich, chair of WestonArts, and vice chair Amy MacRae issued an online casting call, looking for actors and Halloween enthusiasts to help create the Lachat Haunted Farm. “Weston and Westport acting groups came out of the woodwork in response to the call,” said Ms. MacRae.
Ms. Perez-Goodrich said, “COVID made this unique experience happen because available theater talent has been furloughed. The Weston High School Theater Company would have been in full fall rehearsals. We were thrilled to be able to embrace this opportunity to create a pure fun event for the community. COVID changed the entire landscape of Halloween this year.”
Help also came from Weston High School theater coordinator Elizabeth Morris, Weston Intermediate School Principal Pattie Falber, Brian Carter from the Westport Acting Gym, and Laura Pendergast of the Westport Theater Company.
The WestonArts creative team included Ms. Perez-Goodrich, Ms. MacRae, Michael Bud, Momo Burns-Min, Sally Eiler, Andy Reiss, and Ms. Falber.
Props, fog, lights
90 percent of the props were donated by the Morrissey family, staging the 16 different Haunted Farm venues.
Lindsay Schine and Kendall Webb usually plan elaborate Halloween parties at their homes. This year, they donated props.
Ms. Webb also provided the Rolls Royce fog machine, said Ms. Perez-Goodrich. “She also donated the fog juice needed to create the eerie magical experience after you passed through the gate.”
Weston resident Michael Morrissey, a writer, director and producer known for the award-winning Boy Wonder, did the lighting for venues, including the spider pit, the Revolutionary War, the meteor, the blizzard, the butcher, the wedding, the cemetery, the skeletons, and the scarecrows.
Karin Giannitti, a Weston historian, provided stories about the blizzard in 1880 that buried the town, the meteor that hit Weston, the Revolutionary War, and the Onion Barn. A writing team of Mr. Bud, Ms. Burns-Min, Weston High School senior Laurie Lakra and sixth-grader Caroline Goodall added spooky elements to the historical narrative.
Students from Weston schools became actors in choreographed scenes that could easily have come from a play.
Photos were taken by the Weston Public Library Photography Club. You should be seeing them soon.
“Straight to incredible”
Anne Keefe, Artistic Director of the Westport Playhouse, recorded the professional narration of stories that were heard as families waited to pass through the gate and begin the spooky guided tour up the trail.
After taking a tour of the Lachat Haunted Farm, Ms. Keefe said, “I don’t know what I expected, but you all just blew by excellent and went straight to incredible. What a remarkable and moving community effort, beautifully conceived and executed.”
Maybe next year (we’re betting yes)
With any luck, next year Halloween will be back to something like normal.
But, given its popularity, the odds are Lachat Haunted Farm is here to stay.
Enthusiasts can already sign up to help plan version 2.0. Just email email@example.com.