As we enter the final weekend before Halloween, many folks will be venturing out to large attractions like Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Not only will they be taking long drives, but these thrill seekers will dig deep into their pockets to pay for tickets and wait in one- and two-hour lines to enter the haunted houses at these attractions.
But Hernando County residents who choose to stay close to home will not be deprived of thrills and chills, with a potpourri of festivals, parties and entertainment this Halloween weekend.
Returning are favorite staples such as the Halloween Harvest Festival at the Hernando County Fairgrounds in Brooksville and Wild N' Wicked Nights at Weeki Wachee Springs, each offering entertainment for all ages, with haunted houses, hayrides, haunted trails and plenty of games. New this year is an adult-only masquerade ball on Saturday night at the fairgrounds.
And, for those who just can get enough, the fun continues next weekend when the annual Haunted House opens Nov. 2 and 3 at the Hernando Heritage Museum in downtown Brooksville. The three-story house will be transformed into a scare zone that may be too intense for young children, but there will be plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family, including fireside stories, a marshmallow roast, a children's maze, games and candy.
Halloween Harvest Festival: 6 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 S Broad St., Brooksville. The event is hosted by the Hernando County Recreation Department and will feature a haunted house, haunted trail, a children's game area, face painting, hayrides and contests. Admission and parking are free. Game tickets are four for $1. The haunted house is $3; the hayride is $2. An adult masquerade ball will be from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday for $10. For information, call (352) 754-4031.
Wild n' Wicked Nights: Today and Saturday, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. There will be a Halloween-themed mermaid show, a Lost River boat ride and hike, hayrides, a Witches of Weeki show presented by John Leggio, a kids fun maze, a haunted house, a carnival, and costume and scream contests for children. Admission is $8; $4 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger. For information, call (352) 592-5656.
Haunted Trail on Golddust: 7:30 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, 5277 Golddust Road, Spring Hill. Take a guided tour through a wooded trail and help hunt down the witch. Appropriate footwear required. The cost is $5, which will benefit the Humane Society of Hernando County. Call (352) 263-8044.
Halloween Story time: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. This is a family event. Dressing up in costume is encouraged. For information, call (352) 754-4043 or visit hernandocounty library.us.
Haunted Tram Rides: 6 to 11 p.m. today and Saturday, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, 4150 S Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa. The rides will be down Pepper Creek Trail, behind the Visitor Center. The haunted house will feature a "walk on the moon." There will be costume contests each night, refreshments, souvenirs, games, clowns and face painting. The band Zero Gravity will perform, starting at 8:30 p.m. today and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5; $3 for ages 12 and younger. The haunted house is an additional $2. For information, call (352) 628-5343.
Haunted Hayride and Haunted Trails: 7 to 9:30 p.m. today and Saturday, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. On the haunted hayride, visitors will unexpectedly meet soldiers, Seminoles and pioneers from the past. There will be a kid-friendly haunted trail, as well as a more scary trail. There will also be a bounce house and music. Candy and drinks will be provided to children at no cost. Admission to the park is $3 per carload, up to eight people (no cost to annual park pass holders). For information, call (352) 793-4781.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 Halloween Party: 6 p.m. today, 14736 Edward R. Noll Drive, Spring Hill. Admission is free. There will be live music, prizes for the best costumes, food, a cash bar and a raffle. Hosted by the Men's Auxiliary. For information, call (352) 796-0398.
Marine Corps League Detachment 708 Halloween Bash: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8405 Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. Tickets are $5, and guests should bring a dish to share. There will be music, dancing and a costume contest. Call (352) 597-7979 or visit mcl708.org.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9236 Halloween Party: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 3435 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach. Includes a costume contest with $50 awarded to the winner. Bring a dish for the potluck. The bar will be open. (352) 596-9236.
Trail of Treats: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Christian Church in the Wildwood, Building A, 10051 Country Road, north of Weeki Wachee. Includes inflatables, cotton candy, popcorn and lots of candy. Free. Guests may register at the door to enter a drawing to win a Kindle Fire. For information, call (352) 596-1388.
Trunk-or-Treat: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Christ Lutheran Church, 475 North Ave. W, Brooksville. There will be hayrides, candy, games, hot dogs, soda, popcorn, snow cones and bounce castles. Free. For information, call (352) 796-8331.
Halloween Haunted House: 7 p.m. Wednesday, 2322 Meadowlark Road, Spring Hill. Free.
Halloween Haunted House: 7 to 11 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3, Hernando Heritage Museum, 601 Museum Court, Brooksville. Includes a bonfire with ghost stories, refreshments, a fortune teller and tours of the three-story haunted house. Tours of the haunted house are $5 per person. A children's maze for ages 2 and older is $1. Outdoor games are free and include candy. Children should bring trick-or-treat baskets. Contact Terri-Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org or Amanda at email@example.com or (352) 835-1535.
Saints and Sinners Mystery Dice Run: Nov. 3, starting at Coney Island Drive Inn, 1112 E Jefferson St., Brooksville, and ending at the Hernando Heritage Museum, 601 Museum Court, Brooksville. Registration will be from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Coney Island. Kickstands up at 2:15 p.m. Last bike in at 7 p.m. (all vehicles welcome). There will be clues at each stop. Five points and a prize are awarded to the first bike at each stop; three points to second bike and one point to third bike. Cash prizes awarded for the top three overall points. A "goblin" prize will be awarded for the lowest point total. There will be a 50/50 drawing at 7:30 p.m. at the museum, with door prize drawings starting at 8 p.m. Call Laverne at (352) 277-2799.
High Point Lions Club Halloween Dinner Dance: 6 p.m. Nov. 3, High Point Community Center, 12249 Club House Road, High Point. Includes a lasagna dinner, costume party with prizes and a DJ. Guests may bring their own beverages. Tickets are $10. Call Lillie at (352) 596-2411.