Fall fun on the farm

Schuster’s Farm offers umpkins and family fun during the day, but reserves more fearsome options for after dark



Schuster’s Farm in Deerfield offers pumpkins, a corn maze, a haunted forest and lots of other fun options for visitors of all ages.

I was in a strange forest, surrounded by dark trees and grotesque displays of horror when it happened. There was no warning, but of course, when is there? The chainsaw ripped through the quiet, heavy night, its sound tearing into my ears and sending my heart into a leap that didn’t quell as I took off running, following another girl faster than me.

I figured the person chasing us would tire, would possibly run off after spotting slower prey, but the terrifying rattle of the chainsaw only grew closer, louder, until I swore I’d feel something sharp scrape into my back.

Instead, the toe of my left foot snagged on a root shortly after I rounded a corner, exactly like it has happened in so many horror movies. I will tell you now that I will never judge someone who falls while being chased ever again; one moment I was flying down a jagged dirt path with my heart in my throat, the next I was slamming to my hands and knees. Blinking, I didn’t look up. My pursuer’s weapon rattled one last time, then shut off in time for me to hear him say, “Whoa…are you all right?”

Finally, I looked up at him, grinning. He was offering a hand, concern in his eyes behind the mask he wore. Nodding, I rose, face hot and heartbeat irregular. Giving the chainsaw wielding maniac an embarrassed laugh, I trotted off, brushing off the further concerns of the group I had entered the haunted forest with not 15 minutes before.

Guests can pick from two corn maze options and even give it a try after dark.
Guests can pick from two corn maze options and even give it a try after dark.

Or was it 10, 30? Honestly, I have no idea how long we were in there. I didn’t even expect the haunted forest at Schuster’s Farm in Deerfield to even be any good, mainly due to the experience I’ve had at other “haunted” events around Wisconsin – which I guess isn’t that many. I’m kind of a wuss.

It was pure curiosity and willpower over my fears of interactive horror that lured me into that forest on a chilly Friday night, armed with absolutely nothing but my knowledge that nothing could truly hurt me.

But I still ran like hell when that chainsaw started up.Would I want a scare like that again in the future? Goodness, no. Would I go to Shuster’s Haunted Forest again anyway? You know it. Because even for a wuss such as me, it’s a complete blast.

The actors selected to scare participants were on point and timed perfectly. It wasn’t all about jump scares, though. Many times we would round a corner to see a crudely painted clown standing in our path, its grin stretched wide as we inched around him, wondering if something would grab us from the woods behind as we did so. When nothing did, the unease stayed high as the clown then began to slowly follow us at a distance, bringing some of my own real life fears a bit too close to life than I would have liked.

In addition to the fantastically dressed horrors, the attention to detail while decorating the forest itself blew my mind. Of course, there were times – like when I was running from my doom – when I missed what was lining the path around me, but for the most part, the props alone made the haunted forest truly scary. Creepy dolls were tethered to trees in handfuls, their moonlit reflected blank eyes following you as you passed. Trailer after trailer is set up for you to either face a new fear or to feel your way through in complete darkness with the walls pressing in closer and closer and the floor changing consistencies until you feel slightly panicked.

Strobe lights were used in very clever and deceiving ways, and now I can say I’ve seen a fog-filled room with a laser lake produce a half-eaten man-crow out of nowhere ten feet away and, with a trick of the light, have it pop right up at my feet mere seconds later.

Visitors fuss over picking the perfect pumpkin to take home while visiting Schuster's Family Farm.
Visitors fuss over picking the perfect pumpkin to take home while visiting Schuster’s Family Farm.

The rest of Shuster’s Farm was just as impressive, too. The corn maze includes a scavenger hunt that had groups giggling and wandering through confusing rows in the darkness, the moon and flickers of others’ flashlights the only thing lighting our way. Some sort of party we couldn’t quite get answers about lit a separate building in neon purple and blue, throwing the thuds of bass into the night from its windows as people danced inside.

No matter how long we were away for an activity on the farm, we were always able to head back to Madison College’s bonfire, a place for students and some faculty to interact, drink hot chocolate, and, my favorite, roast s’mores.

Regardless of the almost hour-long wait it took for us to get into the Haunted Forest, I am so glad to have attended a night at Shuster’s Farm. I cannot recommend it enough. It should be known that while almost all events at Shuster’s are for all ages, the Haunted Forest is for ages 13 and up. Oh, and as I found out the hard way, it does require moderate exertion, just like the website warns. Every cent was money well spent, however, and braving the cold was worth it in the end, scraped palms, palpitating heart rate, and all.