KINGSTON, ON, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - Be afraid, Very afraid. Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has taken the success of last year's inaugural Fort Fright scare event and doubled its size for the 2009 season. Fort Fright -"Festival of Fear' opened Friday, September 25th and has been received with great gusto this year, as indicated by dramatically increased attendance (to date), up 15% over 2008. Voted 'Best New 2008 Ontario Event' Festivals and Events Ontario, this year's event delivers more scare stations and live costumed ghouls guaranteed to raise goose bumps. Fort Fright represents one of the largest-scale, detailed event productions in eastern Ontario, employing the use of over 50 movie-style, quality animatronics, dynamic special effects, intense sound and lighting and an increased number of costumed animators. This event was funded again this year with the stellar support of visitkingston.ca (Kingston Accommodation Partners), the Ambassador Conference Resort, Four Points Sheraton, Celebrate Ontario and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation.
St. Lawrence Parks Commission GM/CEO Patricia Macdonald is excited about entering year-two of this giant, engaging and exciting scare-ttraction. "The overwhelming success of last year's event gave us all the green light build the momentum of Fort Fright this year," says Ms. Macdonald. "We've championed extending the Fort's operating season well into the fall which in turn, supports our local tourism partners and stimulates the local and regional economy. We have one of the best, natural movie sets in the world for this style of event - damp limestone, creaky floors, tall shadows, wind off the lake, isolated on top of a hill - it's perfect. Tourism Kingston, hotel, retail and food and beverage partners are extremely excited about having this large-scale event placed in a usual quiet time of the season. The Fort Henry team have been working intensely since May preparing props, layout redesigns, ghoul training and all the extras that will make year two surprising to all that return from last year. Part of Fort Henry's success has always been this team's ability to continue to re-invent the site, while being mindful and respectful of its important heritage and history. We're all in this together and together we become stronger."
Will Baird, Fort Henry Special events Coordinator, says working on this event is like playing in a giant sandbox. "There's no denying the intense level of hard work that goes into building this style of event," says Baird. "Lugging and hauling is part of it, but it's the mediums we have to work with that make it so much fun. It's buying an Animatronic or prop, getting it back to the site and building an experience around it. We've added five or 6 pieces this year in new areas of the Fort, including a $3 casket ride experience called "The Final Ride', which has created enthusiastic live ups. The attendance and customer response this year has been over the top - the entire event has been redesigned and we're hearing many positive comments about that. We've noticed a significant increase of guest traveling from the Ottawa area this season, due to some extensive promotion to that market. We haven't even scrapped the surface with what we're doing here."
According to Glen Shakleton, owner of Haunted Walks Inc. who have conducted haunted tours of Fort Henry for several years and released a new last yearbook entitled 'Ghosts of Kingston', Fort Henry has several resident ghosts including a poltergeist in the bakery, a child who died accidentally at the Fort, a wandering Royal Artillery Gunner who died in an artillery accident in the 1830's and our most famous character - Nils Von Schultz - a man hung for treason at Fort Henry after leading an 1830's rebellion against Britain. Through a bevy of sophisticated special effects, the plan is to bring these characters back to life. Creepy Canada, a Canadian show dedicated to chasing ghosts, filmed a segment at Fort Henry in 2005 and numerous paranormal hunters have pull the blankets up and stayed overnight in the quest to connect with the trapped souls. People have e-mailed pictures they've taken with images that were not supposed to be there. Requests to visit keep streaming in. Guests' addition of a 'Haunted Walk of the Fort' has increased over 2008. In addition, the Los Angeles-produced show 'Ghost Hunters' carried on the SiFi Network in the U.S. aired it's premier episode a few weeks ago, (soon to be aired on OLN in Canada), featuring an hour-long segment on the haunted Fort Henry (YouTube: Ghost Hunters - Fort Henry). "Response to this show has been wild," says Baird, "...with e-mails and Fort Henry Facebook comments from viewers all over the U.S. and Canada. It was the right publicity at the right time."
The event is open now, Tuesday to Saturday, 6-10 P.M. until Saturday, November 7th. Tickets are available on line at www.ticketweb.ca , at the Fort Henry gates or at Haunted Walks on Ontario Street in Downtown Kingston. General Admissions is $9.00; a Fort Fright/Haunted Walk tickets is $18; Groups of a minimum of 15 or more $7; a Military Discount with valid Identification is $7. Rates do not include GST. Special hotel overnight packages have been placed on www.fortfright.com under 'Internments' Local hoteliers, inns and bed and breakfast owners have created value-added packages for overnight stays in Kingston.
Located at the junction of Highways 2 and 15 (Exit 623 off Highway 401 then south on Highway 15), Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada is managed by The St. Lawrence Parks Commission, an agency of the Government of Ontario and operates facilities in 16 municipalities stretching from Kingston to the Quebec border, including Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada, Crysler Park Marina, Upper Canada Golf Course, Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary and 12 campgrounds and day-use areas including the Long Sault and 1000 Islands Parkways.
SOURCE Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation
For further information: For further information: Bryan Mercer, A/Director, Marketing and Special Events, St, Lawrence Parks Commission/Fort Henry, TELEPHONE (613) 542-7388 Ext 202, FAX (613) 542-3054