From zombie chickens running amok to a frazzled hair stylist with an electrifying personality and fear of fried poultry reincarnated, Hope area residents are invited out for a free scary good time as Haunted Night at the Museum returns to the Yellow Trail Museum at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29th.

Dovetailing with a host of frightful family fun on the Square that evening, organizers are confident the Yellow Trail will once again be abuzz with delightful laughter and screams as always happens this time of year.

“I think that we are going to have a good crowd this year,” says Jessica Brown, president of the Yellow Trail Museum. “We saw a record crowd at Heritage Days. People are ready to get out and do things. I think these events in Hope always draw a crowd because they are free and good family fun.”

All the frightful events of the evening will play out against the themed backdrop of the return of zombie chickens causing trouble as they’re wont to do, says Sharon Mapes, sponsor for the Hauser Historians.

Adding to the frenzied meanderings of the zombie chickens this year are the Children of the Corn Kings who are hunting them in earnest, Brown says.

Allegedly, the story goes that there was an annual Corn Kings contest that was held nationwide and two Hope farmers would alternately win on a regular basis, one of them being Farmer Martin Hauser. Suffice to say one win isn’t enough and a rivalry ensued.

Now, there is the more pressing problem of zombie chickens. There are too many to handle and they certainly aren’t behaving, so Farmer Martin Hauser is enlisting the help of the Children of the Corn Kings to restore order to the Hope community.

“They’ve been out there living on the fringes of society, stealing and living in the corn,” Brown says. “So Martin is going to get these wild children to help him do battle with the zombie chickens.”

Meanwhile, as Betty, owner of Pretty Hair of Hope hair salon, styles her clients at the Yellow Trail she is rattled about the chickens – namely, the special ones that come back even after they’re fried, “Kind of like a zombie…” she says.

However, Betty isn’t the only one disturbed that evening. Visitors are often a bit taken aback by her intimidating tools of the trade, Brown says.

“Well, they always feature the electric perm machine, which is quite the contraption if you’ve never seen it,” Brown says. “It kind of has this big hood and all the curlers are attached to a cord. It is very 1950s, so we use it in our skits.”

While Betty is catching up on all the frightful gossip, the zombie chickens are creating havoc and causing angst amongst the rest of the evening’s cast of characters, including Steven the Butcher who is cooking up a special Stew and Mr. Burton the headless wagon driver of Hope who has a fear of chickens in any form.

Visitors Friday evening will be ushered through the museum in groups of 10 to 15, Mapes says. To prevent unnecessary congestion, the groups will be staggered as they meander through the half dozen skits, Brown adds.

Generally, it takes about 20 minutes to work one’s way through the skits, of course, that is also dependent on how long visitors take at each station, Mapes adds.

“Last time we did it we changed protocol for COVID,” Brown says. “We used to have pretty large groups, but we kept them with family units and those individuals lived with. People were masked and we didn’t allow multiple groups in at one time. It was a one-way route you came in the front door and went out the side door. We will keep the model this time to keep social distancing where we can.”

Since the passing of Barb Johnson last year, the importance of carrying on Yellow Trail events is not lost on organizers. All agree, Johnson would certainly want everything to continue on in her absence. One element of carrying on that tradition is keeping interest in Hope and its history fresh among Hope’s younger generations.

All the actors for Friday’s event are members of the Hauser Historians, which is one of the last high school history groups left in the state of Indiana,

Mapes says. Boasting a membership of around 15 members, Mapes says, Friday’s event will feature roughly half of the group alongside a handful of adult volunteers.

“I think people in Hope appreciate their heritage and the history of the town and want to keep that alive,” Mapes says. “I think it is good for our kids to be involved because we usually get kids who are friends with other kids who are in it."