Fright at the Fort wins tourism award
Bangor — Fright at the Fort, the annual Friends of Fort Knox Halloween-season fundraiser, was presented an award March 18 at the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held at the Cross Center.
The Creativity Award was presented by Commissioner George Gervais of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. Accepting the award were Leon Seymour, executive director of the Friends; the Plague Doctor, a costumed character from last fall’s Fright at the Fort.
Fright at the Fort began in 1999 as a single afternoon event held on the parade grounds of the Fort Knox State Historic Site. It was geared towards school-age children and featured a costume parade and a few scary props. The event continued this way for several years, raising scant funds.
The Friends of Fort Knox’s executive director encouraged the board of directors to move the event into the evening and transform it into a scarier experience for older visitors. Since this move to an evening, more frightening event, Fright has attracted tens of thousands of visitors and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Last fall, 9,200 visitors attended Fright at the Fort during a total of 14 hours that spanned four evenings. Visitors came from all over Maine, as well as from Canada and neighboring states. The event grossed nearly $84,000 for the Friends of Fort Knox. Fright proceeds go to Fort preservation and enhancements. Fright utilizes approximately 100 volunteers and staff each night. Volunteers include the Penobscot Job Corps, Searsport District High School’s drama department, University of Maine fraternities and community volunteers.
Several years ago, the Friends of Fort Knox reached out to the Greater Bucksport Chamber of Commerce to encourage creation of an event that would compliment Fright and draw more people to the area, for a longer period of time. Such an adjunct event — the chamber created Ghostport — can have a greater positive impact on local retail, food and lodging businesses. The Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism recognizes just such exchanges of ideas and best practices.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or firstname.lastname@example.org.