Anderson University students reinvent old GM park

Mon, 2011-10-10 13:00 -- univcomm
October 10, 2011

Once owned by General Motors, Killbuck Park has now become the home to Killbuck Trails’ Fall Fest and Haunted Woods, started by Anderson University entrepreneurship students at the Falls School of Business.

killbucktrailsThe Fall Fest’s main feature is a one-mile hay ride through the woods, but there are plenty of games including a hay maze and cornhole along with a pumpkin patch, bonfire and plenty of food. [Photo on left: Todd Ledingham hands his daughter Kylie Ledingham a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch at the Fall Fest at Killbuck Trails.]

Tim and Mary Thomas brought their granddaughters Audrey, 7, and Emma, 5, Voss. They found out about the Fall Fest through a coupon and were excited to bring the kids.

“They’ve had a blast,” Mary said. “It’s a neat little festival.”

Tim said it was nice having the festival so close to home. They only live about a mile away and he said they’d typically have to go to Fishers or Indianapolis for a family event like this.

“This worked out well,” he said.

Both girls said they liked the games. In Audrey’s case, the darts specifically.

Sarah Warner, a business management major, said they’ve been working on the project since the beginning of the semester.

She said the props and games were “built, created, or made by a student or a group of students” and the Fall Fest and Haunted Woods are being run by both students and volunteers who have put multiple hours of work into it.

“I think it’s very neat the kids would do something like this for the families,” Mary Thomas said.

Emmett Dulaney, associate professor of entrepreneurship, said they bring students out to the golf club each year to form ideas for what to do to the land.

This year, the ideas stuck.

“There were so many other haunted areas around town that we wanted to try and do something else for the community and for the whole family,” Warner said. “Little kids, they don’t really like haunted stuff.”

Michael Tucker, management major and head of operations, said the turnout for Haunted Woods’ first night was not what they had hoped for, but said Saturday night was a good chance to see “what worked, what didn’t” as far as scares went.

While opening night was a good way to work out kinds, Tucker said they plan to do some heavier advertising for Haunted Woods throughout the following weeks.

The Fall Fest was marketed through the Internet with a discount package for a family of four, he said, which sold about 250 packages.

A portion of the money they make will go to the Killbuck Golf Club while the rest will help pay for items used.

Natalie Nagengast, a finance major who was in charge of the budget, came up with the idea of a family fun farm while Tucker came up with the carnival aspect.

Because there’s not just one person in charge, she said the group dynamic has been different; hectic, but still flowing with the students working together.

“It’s been a great experience because you’re not just learning — I’m more of a hands-on person — you’re not just learning in the classroom with a textbook,” she said, “you get to do it.”

killbucktrails2While the weather was nice and the Sunday turnout was pretty good, she said they want to keep working on improving. [Photo on right: Chyna Johnson smiles out of a hole at her mother, Curita Westbrook, during a visit to the Family Fun Park at Killbuck Trails.]

And while the students want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, it’s a time for them to learn how to run a business and spend the money, Dulaney said.

The students are doing what is called reverse engineering where they run the business first and then write up the business plan later.

Dulaney said it’s the first time they’ve done it this way, but it should help students realize what’s attainable.

He said many first-time business plans “are more fiction than fact.”

He’d like the event to continue in the future, but said it’s really dependent on the students.

For now, Nagengast said they’ve gotten a lot of support but are still looking for volunteers.

Check out their website www.KillbuckTrails.com, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Killbuck-Trails or follow them on Twitter @KillbuckTrails.

If you go:

What: Killbuck Trails Fall Fest

Where: Killbuck Golf Course 3181 N. 200E

When: Oct. 9, 15 and 16, 23 and 30 from 1 to 7 p.m.

Prices: Hayride tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under

Activity tickets, such as the bounce house, are $1 a piece or 25 for $20

What: Killbuck Trails Haunted Woods

Where: Killbuck Golf Course 3181 N. 200E

When: Oct. 8, 21 and 22, 28 and 29 from dusk to midnight or later

Prices: $10 for adults and $7 for students, military and first responders

Both sponsored by Anderson University

—Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Aaron Piper. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the eighth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.