The second the car door closed behind me, I could already hear screams in the distance.
The smell of mini doughnuts, fried food and campfire pulled me from O’Keefe’s parking lot toward the glow of the floodlights. The screams got louder with every step. I knew I was in trouble.
This is only the second time I’ve been to the Field of Screams. Last year, event organizers were forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic but this year is a can’t miss, in my personal opinion as a horror aficionado.
The mazes are more complicated and the actors are more enthusiastic and after more than a year of isolation, it makes sense — they’re ready to scare bajebus out of you.
This year’s Zombie Apocalypse is appropriate.
The idea of a contagion spreading from person to person is all too real this year and Glen Taylor, managing director of the Okanagan’s favourite corn maze, admitted there may be a familiar connection.
“I think it may have a little bit to do with what’s going on here,” he said with a laugh.
Taylor first started the event in 2013 when he was the manager at O’Keefe Ranch and he always looked forward to October. As the years went on and the event grew, Matt Brown joined on as the creative director, bringing with him his film and theatre talents.
In 2019, more than 31,000 people went through the mazes.
“It is wonderful to be back,” Taylor said on Day 2 of the 2021 season (Oct. 2). “It was such a disappointment, we had so many people make comments about losing that event in 2020. But we’ve taken the steps to make this year’s a fun event for everyone.”
By the second day, thrill-seekers from Penticton, Osoyoos and Kamloops had already made the trip to check out this year’s three mazes, plus this year’s newest addition.
“This year, we’ve added a new element,” Taylor said. “The dark maze. There’s no lights, no actors. It’s just a massive maze in the pitch black.”
This new maze is also an answer to long lineups experienced in the past, which in a COVID-19 world, also helps with physical distancing.
The team behind Field of Screams has taken precautions to ensure staff and guests are safe. Taylor said while the event is an outdoor walk-thru event, there’s really no restrictions that apply, but plexiglass has been put up to protect staff and guests are spread out in half-hour intervals to prevent crowding.
For Taylor, the best part of the Field of Screams is seeing how happy it makes people.
“When you stand here and see the smiling faces coming in, that’s my favourite part,” he said. “It’s giving a lot of joy to the public.”
But are they smiling when they eventually make it out of the maze?
“Well yeah, they are, they just have a little wet stain on their pants,” he joked.
Tickets start online at $10.50 and go up to $68.25 for the VIP experience which gets you access to all mazes, the new dark maze, plus you get to skip the line.
Wednesday nights are Cheap Night and for only $30, you can go through every maze. Tickets for this have to be purchased at the gate. They’re not available online.