Throughout the month of October, Driftless readers have been chilled and thrilled by entries in the Spooky Stories to Tell in the Driftless writing contest. This week’s edition features first place winners. All the finalists are available in the ‘Features’ tab of this website. Staff favorites and honorable mentions will be published throughout the week.
Meet the ‘spooktacular’ judges
Spooky story entries were scored by three local judges, Dave Smutzler, Julianne Couch and August Greenberg. Prizes were awarded for first, second and third places in each category. The judges were given only the stories and categories, no information about the authors was shared.
Decorah Chief of Police Dave Smutzler is a founding member of Police Investigating Ghosts (PIGs). The team has investigated schools, theatres, businesses, hospitals and poor houses. Additionally, Travel Channel show Paranormal Emergency aired a segment in 2019 involving a story from investigator Smutzler.
Julianne Couch is a new resident of Decorah who is still finding her way around the hills and valleys of the Driftless Area. She and her husband moved here from the river town of Bellevue, which they enjoyed for many years. Before that, they lived many years in Wyoming. Julianne is a writer and educator, who teaches for the University of Wyoming and occasionally, Upper Iowa University.
August Greenberg is the director and creator of Decorah Scare, Decorah’s Haunted House. Greenberg plays many parts but most often his alternate persona, Twister the Clown. “My love of scary and anything Halloween came from my Dad who passed away last year. All his love for the season really made this of year more special. Monsters? Ghosts? Whatever makes you scream I’m in. Except spiders. That’s my limit!” comments Greenberg.
The contest was made possible by the sponsorship of Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins, First Southeast Bank of Canton & Harmony, Dragonfly Books and Paper Moon Books.