Around the County: Haunted houses and The Coffee Haus

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
The Ballinger Police Association's Hallow Fest brought in an estimated 1,000 people to check out the haunted/twisted big-top theme.
As you can see, a young visitor filming her friends being scared is about to get a bit of a surprise herself.

BALLINGER - It was a busy week for everyone in Runnels County, as Ballinger has become the go-to destination for haunted house enthusiasts.

The Ballinger Police Association's Hallow Fest excelled at thrilling the thrill-seekers once again. The theme this year was Twisted Big-top. It centered around the circus, well, a haunted circus, that is. If you suffer from Coulrophobia, it probably wasn't the haunted house you wanted to visit. Or, maybe it was. After all, who wants to go to a haunted house and not be scared?

The Ballinger Police Association's Hallow Fest brought in an estimated 1,000 people to check out the haunted/twisted big-top theme.

A fear of clowns would have been just the ticket for those who fear the painted entertainers with water-spraying chrysanthemums, big floppy shoes, and hand buzzers. The only difference is that these clowns were mostly painted with black and white makeup and carried cleavers, chainsaws, or other implements of terror. The only color other than black and white was red, (fake) blood, apparently from their victims. 

Other Halloween-associated creatures abounded in animatronics, such as werewolves, vampires, spiders, zombies, etc. The "big-top" decorations were mostly black and white bunting, with the appropriate amount of (fake) blood staining the decorations.

The Ballinger Police Association's Hallow Fest brought in an estimated 1,000 people to check out the haunted/twisted big-top theme. KRUN owner and GM, Jeff Smith (clown), helps his wife, Jessica, with some meat preparation.

Ballinger Police Department corporal Suzanne Torres is the master of the magic that happens at Hallow Fest every year. This year, the event surpassed even her own expectations, "It was absolutely incredible. We had so many people come in from other towns. We even had people come in from Marble Falls to volunteer as actors. They stayed in San Angelo and drove back and forth all week while we set the haunted house up."

The Ballinger Police Association's Hallow Fest brought in an estimated 1,000 people to check out the haunted/twisted big-top theme.

Being an actor was no easy task. Torres came in and told everyone to take a break about 90-minutes after the haunted circus opened. The actors gathered in a break area, all of them drenched in sweat. The clown costumes worn by many of them didn't allow for significant airflow, so it was like being in a sauna for the people evoking screams from visitors to the haunted big-top. Being as it was Halloween, there was no shortage of sweet treats for the actors who were facing another 2-hours of performance.

Torres estimates that the event that was held on Friday and Saturday evening brought in over 1,000 visitors.

Another haunted house was at Ballinger's Olde Park Hotel. The location is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the country. Owners Dan and Connie Lafave create a new haunted house each year with a different theme. The location has been visited by the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, as well as others who conducted numerous paranormal investigations at the establishment.

New coffee shop opens

The Coffee Haus on Main held their grand opening in downtown Ballinger on Saturday. The bottom floor and loft were packed with customers.

The Coffee Haus on Main had their grand opening in Ballinger on Saturday morning. The coffee shop was built by Larry, Ryan, and Gillian Lange.

There was no shortage of customers as both the main floor and the loft area were packed. Larry Lange greeted people as they showed up when he wasn't helping in the kitchen area.

The Coffee Haus on Main held their grand opening in downtown Ballinger on Saturday. Gillian Lange (left) and St. Mary Star of the Sea pastor, Father Yesu, visit before the padre' blessed the establishment with holy water.

St. Mary Star of the Sea pastor, Father Yesu, was on-hand to sprinkle some holy water and bless the building.

The shop is open 7-days a week, from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday, and from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday they're open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Coffee Haus on Main held their grand opening in downtown Ballinger on Saturday. The establishment offers adult drinks as well.

The coffees and teas that the establishment offers can be stepped-up with a shot of your favorite adult drink. The Lange's got a liquor permit when they started renovating the building to turn it into the coffee shop and, eventually, an Airbnb.

Food is also available, including various types of quiche and other sweets.

You can find out more by visiting their social media pages, Coffee Haus on Main.