Saturday's fall festival in Auxvasse will feature a haunted house with an anti-bullying message.
The nonprofit organization Misfit Monsters is hosting its first fall festival in Auxvasse. Christy Sapp founded the group in 2016 to bring in children from foster care or broken homes, or who simply have trouble fitting in.
"We get together throughout the year, maybe two or three times a month, and just build stuff to give the kids something to do," Sapp said.
The haunted house goes by the name "Haunted Harvest" and Sapp said it's themed around a "misfit orphanage." Members of Misfit Monsters will staff the attraction, playing the role of someone who has been mistreated or neglected throughout their life.
"We let each kid that wants to act in it be their own character so they can become the person they want to be for the day," Sapp said. "Some of the stories are their true stories, and this gives them an outlet to express this in a unique way."
Sapp said she has been a fan of fall and Halloween her entire life and began helping her grandfather create pumpkin patches and haunted houses in 2009. Sapp attends many haunted house conventions each year and hosts her own free classes to spread the knowledge.
Misfit Monsters hosted its first free haunted house in Auxvasse in 2016, and Sapp said it has been received with enthusiasm and support from the town as well as people statewide. Sapp said a number of organizations will attend this year to view the house, as it has been considered one of the best in the state of Missouri.
"Right now, we have a 60-person crew that is comprised of children as young as 6 to adults up to 75," Sapp said.
She said the organization's members include children and adults from Auxvasse, St. Louis, the Lake of the Ozarks, Centralia, Fulton, Jefferson City and Columbia. The organization began expanding its reach in 2017 and welcomed people outside of the Auxvasse community.
Sapp said "monsters" participating in the haunted house will parade around town at 10 a.m. as a way to introduce themselves to the community. There will be a kid-friendly haunted house from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for $2; the main haunted house will be open from 7-10 p.m. for $5.
"The house only costs $5, and that includes an unlimited number of times you can go through," Sapp said. "We want everybody to come out and have a good time. Not everyone can afford the top-shelf prices."
She described the "scare level" of the evening haunted house as being "pretty intense." Despite humble beginnings with a pumpkin festival in Hartsburg, Sapp and Misfit Monsters are looking to continue spreading Halloween fun and bullying awareness this season.
"We hope that people have a good time and enjoy the season. I grew up loving Halloween and the fall, and since my grandfather passed a few years ago, I've just wanted to keep growing this each year," she said.
The Auxvasse Fall Festival will take place downtown from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.