August 5, 2008

Scares Mined at Fair’s Wild West Attraction

By Laura McVicker, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Aug. 5--Beyond every turn, the ghosts gets more accosting, the setting gets darker and the maze becomes more winding.

At the same time, the screams get louder.

Such was the experience of cousins Jessica Perez and Jazmine Galvan as they made their way through the Clark County Fair's How the West was Fun's haunted mine.

They didn't think it was going to be that scary. But after they encountered the sooty-faced mine worker who got a little too close for comfort and then pushed through a mine tunnel amid ghoul-like screams, the cousins were convinced.

"I thought there was going to be hands reaching out," said Perez, 14, of Vancouver.

But who said it was going to be tame? That's why the greater backdrop is the Wild West, with an old-fashioned Main Street that includes a cowboy doing rope tricks on a unicycle and a chance to get sarsaparilla sundaes. Visitors can also have their portrait taken in old-fashioned, western garb. At the Wild West exhibit, there's even "Wild and Dangerous Desert," with lizards, turtles and rattlesnakes, oh my!

After paying the $1 admission and entering the haunted mine, visitors first encounter bones in a bathtub and a tour guide explaining that mine-working ghosts aren't too friendly to visitors.

Visitors take an elevator down to a mine shaft, where they squeeze through a tunnel, actually two inflatable tubes sandwiched together. Then, visitors meet more ghosts. And more ghosts and more tunnels galore.

"I'm going to get you," Ashley Johnson of Ridgefield said she heard from one ghost as she pushed through a tunnel.

Johnson admittedly was spooked, although she thought the attraction could have been a bit darker at spots and the sound effects stronger. Overall, though, it was an eerie treat, she said.

Some shrieks came from unexpected places, as did some brave faces. Take 6-year-old Miriam Raymond, who forged ahead of her 12-year-old cousin, Jazmine Galvan, in gleeful curiosity. Despite some trepidation after encountering some bones, she said she wanted to go again.

Youngster Ashleigh Holce went through the mine with her grandfather, Roger Hauskins -- twice.

"Maybe later, I'll go by myself," she said.


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