Over the past five years, the Haunted Sawmill has become one of Wisconsin’s top haunted attractions, drawing thousands of visitors to Merrill while providing local youth with the opportunity to raise funds for Boy Scout activities. Since last fall’s Halloween-time performances, however, the LLC that owns the building has decided to sell it, complete with all the props and fixtures for the Haunted Sawmill.
“All the props and everything goes with it, all intact, the Hearse and all,” said LLC member Aimee Weisskopf.
The LLC is open to selling the building to an owner with other intentions, but would like to see it continue as a haunted house.
“They can buy the building and do whatever they want with it,” she said. “It would be fantastic if another entity would buy it and run it as a fundraiser for non-profits.”
Unless a new entity purchases the building and puts the attraction back in motion, the Haunted Sawmill is over.
“There won’t be a show this year, at least we’re not planning to do a show at this point,” Weisskopf said. “We actually just own the building. It’s up to the non-profits to actually run the fundraiser, and the non-profits have stepped down.
“We appreciate all the donations and the time and money that people have given us, but now we’re ready to move on to something else and let someone else have a chance at it.”
In 2015, the Haunted Sawmill drew 8,300 visitors. The Haunted Sawmill has also collected thousands of food items each year for the local food pantry.
Well supported by Merrill area residents, the Sawmill also brought people to Merrill from all over Wisconsin and beyond.
“The local community was extremely supportive,” Weisskopf said. “We want to thank everyone for the donations over the years and what this opportunity has meant to the local Boy Scout troops.”
Because Boy Scout troops can’t own property, a group of Scout parents from Troop 599 formed an LLC six years ago to purchase the building at 700 Hendricks St. in Merrill. The plan was to create an ambitious fundraiser that would help Scouts pay for summer camp, high adventure trips and other scouting activities.
“There was a group of parents who saw an opportunity for a fundraiser for the boys and wanted to make that opportunity happen,” Weisskopf said.
The former industrial property took on the story line of the Haunted Sawmill, inhabited by a gaggle of ghouls headed by Vincent Mudget, a murderous millworker bent on vengeance. Getting the Sawmill rolling and keeping it fresh each year took a tremendous amount of effort.
“The families have given their heart and soul,” Weisskopf said. “A lot of people don’t realize we start working on the show in February and March in the building.”
Over the years, some of the LLC members’ children have aged out of scouting; others just don’t have the time to give to the Sawmill anymore.
“It just has gotten to the point where the families are essentially burned out,” Weisskopf said, “or their children have aged out. And as much as we want the opportunity to be there for the upcoming scouts, nobody’s really said ‘let me take over’.
“We’re extremely grateful for everything that everyone has done,” she added. “It was not an easy decision to let go of this fantastic opportunity, but people were putting their lives on hold to run this show and now those people are ready to spend time with their families and on their own homes.”
For more information about the building, contact the LLC at Hauntedsawmillllc@gmail.com.