BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando Historical Museum has a treat for folks who like a good fright: This year, its annual Haunted House and Fall Festival will be held over two weekends instead of one.
The expansion is the result of the festival's increasing popularity, which organizer Amanda Mullen attributes to one factor: The building that houses the attraction is believed to be haunted.
Last year, the event, which is the museum's largest fundraiser, drew about 2,000 people — some from as far away as Sarasota.
It is set up inside the museum, also known as the May-Stringer House, which was built in 1856, Mullen said. Live actors will be prepared to scare guests throughout the Victorian house's three floors.
"It actually has four, but the fourth floor is not accessible for anybody — not even us," said Mullen, who has co-chaired the event for eight years with her husband and parents.
Each room on each floor will have a scary theme, and "a lot of (planned) surprises," said Mullen. But, she added, "it is a real haunted house, so you could have surprises that we don't even know about."
That's because the house is believed to be haunted by ghosts, including that of 3-year-old Jessie May, who died in the house around 1870.
"A lot of people have heard her laughing and running up and down the stairs," Mullen said.
Other ghosts that visitors to the museum claim they have encountered include a soldier, and a man who has earned the nickname Mr. Nasty.
"He's not very nice," said Mullen, who has had her own unexplained experiences in the house.
"One year, setting up for the haunted house, one of the other volunteer ladies and I had gotten the attic door shut on us," she said.
Another time, while giving a tour of the house, a plaque lifted itself off a shelf and landed on the floor.
"Just knowing that you're actually walking through a real haunted house makes (the attraction) extra creepy," Mullen said.
The haunted house is optional — guests may attend the festival without going through it. The house is geared toward teens and adults, though organizers will admit children as young as 8.
"But it would have to be a very brave 8-year-old," Mullen said. "It is very scary."
Guests who choose to navigate the house will get to visit outdoor "scare zones" afterward, which will lead to the fall festival.
The festival will feature games for kids and a bonfire with storytelling and free marshmallows for roasting. Other highlights will include a palm reader, a children's maze with "friendly" decorations, plus food and drinks for sale.
Author Dave Lapham will sign copies of his book, Ghosthunting Florida, which has a chapter about the May-Stringer House.
Mullen hopes for another good turnout.
"It's a good time, and it's a good scare," she said. "And it all goes for a good cause."
If you go
The Haunted House and Fall Festival at the Hernando Historical Museum, 601 Museum Court, Brooksville, will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 21, 22, 28 and 29. Parking and admission to the festival are free. The cost to enter the haunted house is $5, and $1 for the children's maze. Attendees who are in line for the house by 11 p.m. will be admitted. For information, call (352) 835-1535.
Wild n' Wicked Nights: 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 29, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. Ghoulish mermaids take over the park to present a spooky underwater show along with a haunted house and trails, a kids fun maze and costume and scream contests. Tickets are $6; $4 for ages 6 to 12; free for ages 5 and younger. Call (352) 592-5656 or visit floridastateparks.org/weekiwachee.
Scream-A-Geddon: The annual haunt continues daily through Oct. 31, as well as on Nov. 4 and 5, at 27839 Saint Joe Road, west of Dade City. Visitors can make their way through six haunted attractions, including the Cursed Hayride, Dead Woods and Blackpool Prison. The event is from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets vary from $19.95 to $29.95. Visit screamageddon.com or call (813) 452-5412.
Haunted Angelus House: The attraction continues through Oct. 31 at the Angelus, 12413 Hudson Ave., Hudson. Situated on 25 acres, the PG-13 event features six attractions, including a haunted house, haunted hayride, zombie and prison haunts, fire dancers and performers. There will be a balloon pumpkin patch for children. Open 7:30 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Sundays, Thursdays and Oct. 31. Tickets are $16; $8 for ages 5 to 10, and free for ages 4 and younger. Unlimited passes are $40; $20 for ages 5 to 10. Visit 36haunt.com or call (727) 364-2868.
Halloween Harvest Festival: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. The annual event includes a haunted house, hayrides, games, face painting, food, and costume contests for adults, kids and dogs. Friday's activities include a pet masquerade at 7 p.m. followed by a pet parade. Saturday's events include a costume contest at 7 p.m. Food vendors will be available. Admission is free. Other prices: game tickets, four for $1; haunted house, $3; hayride, $2. Thee is a $2 entry fee for the pet masquerade and costume contests. Call (352) 754-4031.
Masquerade Madness Costume Fun Run: 8 a.m. Saturday. Dress in costume for the annual 5K, 10K or 1-mile fun run on the Good Neighbor Trail near downtown Brooksville. Includes a costume contest, medals, awards and an after party. Proceeds benefit the Junior Service League of Brooksville. $15 for the 1-mile run and $30 for the 5K and 10K runs; group/team prices $20. Russell Street Park/Good Neighbor Trailhead, 70 Russell St., Brooksville.
Haunted Halloween: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. Find scary surprises along a haunted trail and inside a spook-filled village. Admission is $6 per carload (up to eight people). Proceeds benefit Cub Scout Pack 439. Call (352) 793-4781.
Halloween Magic: 8 p.m. Oct. 22, 28 and 29 at Merlin's Theater, 7148 Congress St., New Port Richey. Magician David Evangelista will mix scary stories and magic. Tickets are $15; $10 for ages 12 and younger. Call (727) 748-8800.
Harvest Moon Corn Maze: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 6 at Harvest Moon Farm, 15990 Stur St., Masaryktown. Featuring a 5-acre maze with more than 3 miles of twists and turns, a petting farm, pony rides, a 70-foot jumping pillow, a cow train, games and a pumpkin patch. This year's theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Peanuts television special. Visitors can play interactive bingo for a chance to win a trip for four people to Knotts Berry Farm in California, where the Peanuts characters are the theme park's mascots. Admission is $11.95; ages 2 and younger free. Call toll-free 1-800-373-4811 or visit harvestmoonfl.com.
Sweetfields Farm Fall Corn Maze: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 6 at Sweetfields Farm, 17250 Benes Roush Road, Masaryktown. Featuring 5 acres of maze fun and a variety of activities, including hayrides and a hay maze, fall maze, hay play area, picnic area, duck race, spider web maze, tree house, story teller, free craft of the season and petting zoo. There also is a fresh produce and U-pick area. Sturdy shoes suggested. Food and beverages available for purchase. The cost is $9.50 plus tax for ages 12 and older, $5 plus tax for ages 3 to 11 and free for ages 2 and younger. Cash only. Call (352) 279-0977 or visit sweetfieldsfarm.com.
Halloween train rides: 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 29, Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills. Central Pasco and Gulf Railroad hosts this annual event. Not-so-spooky rides, suitable for young children, will be offered at 6 p.m. Scarier rides will begin at 7 p.m. and include a trip through the haunted woods. Tickets are $5 per person. Food vendors available. Call (727) 639-7639.
Haunted house: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at USA Fleamarket, 11721 U.S. 19, Port Richey. See if you can survive the "reign of terror" and "Your Worst Nightmare." Admission is $3; $1 for ages 5 and younger. The haunted house also will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29. Call (727) 243-1367.
Trunk or treat: Starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Sims Park, 5547 Main St., New Port Richey. Kids may walk around to different vendors and collect candy until 6:30 p.m. The movie Hocus Pocus will start at 7 p.m.; bring blankets or lawn chairs. The event takes place at Orange Lake. Call (727) 841-4560.
Trunk or treat: 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26 at SunWest Park, 17362 Old Dixie Highway, Hudson. Kids can collect candy from decorated car trunks. There will also be a festival with bounce houses, a rock-climbing wall, live music, a costume contest and cakewalks. Admission is free. Food will be available for purchase. Call (727) 569-6472 or visit sunwestpark.com.
Haunted house: 8 to 11 p.m. Oct. 27 to 29, Marker 48 Brewing, 12147 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill. Last entrance is at 10:55 p.m. Live music and entertainment all three nights, along with food trucks and a photo booth. A Halloween party and costume contest will be on Oct. 29. This event is for adults only, and everyone must sign a waiver before entering. The cost is $20 (VIP Night) on Oct. 27, which includes a full pour of Mermaid's Blood Ale and a special glass to take home. Admission is $5 for Oct. 28 and 29, which includes a small pour of Mermaid's Blood Ale. Proceeds benefit October's "Tap for a Cause" recipient, the Arc Nature Coast. Call (352) 606-2509.
Haunted House on 41: 7:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd. Take a tour of an abandoned Department of Corrections institution for the criminally insane. The cost is $1. Call (813) 929-1229.
Wesley Chapel Fall Festival: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Grove, 6333 Wesley Grove Blvd. There will be a carnival with games, live music, food and beverages, arts and crafts, a pumpkin patch, a Little Miss & Little Mr. Pumpkin Pageant and other interactive entertainment. Trunk or treat will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29; community members are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and participate in contests for best-decorated vehicle, best family costume and best costume. For information about the festival, call (727) 674-1464. For questions about trunk or treat, call (813) 506-3638.
Halloween Thriller Dance: 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 29, Beacon Square Civic Association Clubhouse, 3741 Bradford Drive, Holiday. Hosted by Love to Dance, a nonprofit group. Open to singles and couples of all ages. Costumes are optional; there will be a costume contest. Door prizes awarded each hour. Snacks and beverages available. Guests may bring their own beverages. Admission is $3 for Beach Square members and $5 for nonmembers. Call (727) 375-4427.
Caliente Carnival of the Dead: 8 p.m. Oct. 29, Caliente Resort and Spa, 21240 Gran Via Blvd., Land O'Lakes. Check your sanity at the door when the clothing-optional resort covers up with costumes for the "Greatest Show Un-earthed" circus-themed Halloween party, with a freak show, a living statue, a stilt walker and multiple oddities. Tickets range from $70 to $100 for nonmembers and free to $75 for members. Call (813) 996-3700 or visit calienteresorts.com.