Award-winning Halloween attraction ‘Monster Bash’ looks to expand

By By Charlie Warner

Jay Masters stands in front of the front gate of Sinister Stronghold Castle, which was part of a recent Monster Bash presentation. (Driftless Multimedia photo by Charlie Warner)

If all goes as planned, Monster Bash, the award-winning Halloween attraction located in Harmony, Minn., will become even bigger and better in coming years. 

According to Monster Bash President Jay Masters, the Booster Club for The Arts Committee is looking to raise $200,000 over the next three years for the expansion.

“We will be meeting with several groups and individuals through March to secure commitments for the necessary donations,” Masters explained. “It is our hope that businesses, non-profit organizations, family farms and private individuals will make a three-year commitment to our capital campaign ‘The Fillmore Central Army for the Arts.’ 

“The addition will give us a permanent garage for the hearse in the back of the building,” Masters continued. “By moving the hearse (the parade vehicle used to promote the attraction) to the back of the addition, it will free up about 300 square feet of haunt space in the front of the building. We will also be adding an additional 240 square feet to our large prop room for the storage of furniture and larger props. The area where we will store walls will increase by 210 square feet, and we will add an additional 1,500 square feet to the back of the building for our haunt. In total, we should be adding about 1,800 additional square feet of haunt space. The addition will be two full stories, which will allow us to better organize our small props, lighting and electrical, flooring and wall coverings.”

During the past 12 years, Monster Bash has donated nearly $160,000 to the Fillmore Central (FC) music and arts programs. This past year, Monster Bash donated $25,000 to FC.

Since 2017, Monster Bash has consistently been named the top Halloween attraction in the entire state by minnesotahauntedhouses.com. 

The idea

Masters came up with the Monster Bash idea a dozen years ago, when he had two kids who participated in the FC music program. He and former FC instrumental director Lane Powell discussed how the cost per student to take part in the music trips ran between $750 and $1,000 — depending on the destination. They realized that this could be a substantial financial burden for some. 

“A lot of families just couldn’t come up with that kind of money, especially if they had more than one child to pay for,” Masters said. “So, we came up with this idea. Students and their parents earn points for every hour they work. Then, we total up the proceeds for the year and divide it by the number of points. Some students (and their parents) put in enough time to pay for the majority of the cost of the trip.”

Several years later, the FC drama department was added as a Monster Bash recipient. 

During the first five years, the Monster Bash was held in the gymnasium of the Harmony Community Center (formerly the Harmony Elementary School). And, during those five years, the event grew in popularity. But there were some logistical hurdles that continued to make the event a very challenging endeavor. 

The enormous configuration of each haunted house presentation in the hallways and gym at the community center required as many as 135 four-by-eight-foot panels of plywood just for the walls. All of the panels and sets had been stored in Preston, Minn., and were loaded up on trucks and trailers, transported to Harmony and then set up. This also included truckloads of furniture, appliances, wall decorations and other furnishings, utilized for the various rooms of horror at the Monster Bash, which has a new theme every year.

That all changed when the old lumberyard building, located just west of Harmony’s downtown and home to Slim’s Woodshed for many years, came up for sale. 

Monster Bash supporters came up with a plan to purchase the massive building and began retrofitting it into a multi-use facility. A board of directors was created and a 501(c)3 non-profit organization was formed. 

For more information on the capital campaign and for donation instructions, call Jay Masters at 507-273-3143. 

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