Wednesday, Aug 28 2013 04:33 PM

Museum doing holidays BIG, starting with Halloween

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Looking for a bloody good time? This 65-year-old embalming table decorated in fake blood sets the scene in a morgue room at Talladega Frights, which opens Sept. 27 at the Kern County Museum.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Don't be like this dummy and forget that Talladega Frights opens Sept. 27.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Roger Perez shines his cellphone light on pigs hanging from the ceiling in the freezer room at Talladega Frights.

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  4. 4 of 4

    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Only the harsh light of day can play down the fright factor of these props for Talladega Frights, which opens at its new location at the Kern County Museum on Sept. 27.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Can't get enough of Halloween and Christmas? Neither can the Kern County Museum.

Executive Director Roger Perez has announced a couple of monthlong Halloween attractions and the super-sizing of a Christmas holiday tradition for many local families.

First up is the creepy new tenant that will take up residence -- appropriately -- in an out-of-the-way dirt area at the back of the museum.

Talladega Frights, which for the past couple of years drew thousands to its location on Rosedale Highway, has moved and will open at the Chester Avenue museum on Sept. 27. Returning to the fright-fest are the Green River Asylum and Hillbilly Hell, which, according to the Talladega website are "all new, all revamped and ALL. TOO. REAL." Also back, after taking a year off, is Zombie-X, which allows participants to board military trailers and hunt the undead.

A little too frightening for the tykes, you say?

Perez and Mike Wilbur, the mastermind behind Talladega Frights, have families covered with Halloween Town, featuring a midway with carnival games, a pumpkin patch and pumpkin cannons, sledding hill, hayride, bounce houses, a super slide, food and more. And, to ward off the nightmares, it's all separate from the big-kid-skewing scares going down at Talladega and Zombie-X.

Not to be overshadowed -- Perez hopes -- is Safe Halloween on Oct. 30 and 31, a family tradition now in its 30th year. Though the popular trick-or-treat stations will be back, Wilbur and his crew will add a carnival, an ice-skating rink and other attractions to boost the oomph factor. Admission to Safe Halloween is $10 ($8 for museum members).

Admission prices for the other Halloween attractions at the museum vary. All attendees pay the $10 admission to Halloween Town, but it's $10 extra for Talladega Frights and another $10 for Zombie-X (though the combo rate for all three attractions is $27). There is no discount rate for museum members. Halloween Town runs Thursdays through Sundays from Sept. 27 through Nov. 3 (Talledega Frights is closed on Oct. 30).

Look for a full preview of all the museum's Halloween attractions in an upcoming issue of Eye Street.

Meanwhile, Perez has decided to make the most of a good -- but limited -- idea at Christmastime.

"This is my favorite thing we're going to do this year by far," he said. "We're going to take the village and we're transforming it into Christmas Town. The best way to describe is it's like the Holiday Lamplight Tours -- the look and feel of that event."

Perez is referring to the years-long tradition at the museum, which took visitors back in time with the help of carolers, carriage rides, old-fashioned lanterns and other picture-postcard features of the late 1800s.

The problem with the Lamplight Tours, in Perez's opinion, is that the event lasted just one evening. But this year, the Rockwellian magic kicks off Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving, and runs through Dec. 30.

Perez is bringing back Wilbur and his Talladega crew to take the attraction to another level, adding light shows, an animation feature, a sledding hill and ice-skating rink (no matter how much magic Perez and Wilbur are capable of, they can't make it snow in Bakersfield, so they'll be using a synthetic material for the sledding and skating).

"One of the first events I went to when I came to the museum was the Lamplight Tours, and I heard from so many people that they thought it was a shame it was only one day," Perez said. "It just killed me."

And though details aren't set, Perez is hoping to organize a New Year's Eve event as well. 

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