“The Sleepy Hollow Experience” is riding into Harrodsburg starting Thursday, Sept. 28. The immersive theatrical haunting experience will run Thursday through Sundays every weekend until Halloween at Old Fort Harrod State Park (100 South College Street). Director and producer Brian Clowdus is promising a haunting experience. You know what else is a haunting experience? Not being able to get a ticket. Organizers say book your tickets now because they are on track to be sold-out before opening.
Clowdus and his cast, which includes national talent and local performers—you’ll be pleased to know that the Headless Horseman himself, or at least what’s left of him, is from right here in Mercer County—were busy rehearsing on Monday.
“We’re basically transforming Old Fort Harrod into Sleepy Hollow,” Clowdus said.
Everybody knows all about Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, which Clowdus calls the most famous ghost story ever. He was asked exactly what was entailed in turning a classic tale into an “immersive theatrical haunting experience.”
“Its an on your feet journey,” Clowdus explained. “We’re using the entire environment as our story.”
He said he finds Harrodsburg—especially Old Fort Harrod—charming, and perfect for getting people into the right frame of mind to believe a decapitated Hessian soldier is out chopping off people’s heads, especially lovelorn schoolmasters.
Washington Irving published “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” all the way back in 1820. In a modern American city, surrounded by steel and polished glass, it might seem a little quaint. But at Old Fort Harrod, especially when the sun drops behind the trees, the crooked ground covered with dead leaves and the sudden squeal of an unseen horse, Sleepy Hollow doesn’t seem so far away any more.
Clowdus and his cast want to make use of that sense of dislocation. They will guide spectators around the fort, drawing them deeper and deeper into the story. It’s a way to get people past their prejudices when it comes to the theatrical, he said.
“It’s truly going to be an epic experience,” he said. “If you hate the theater, you’re going to love this.”
“Then again, if you love theater, you’re also going to love this,” he said. “There is something for everyone.”
Clowdus and park officials have been working on bring the “Sleepy Hollow Experience” to Old Fort Harrod since 2019. A native of Alabama, Clowdus said he enjoys the challenge of bringing productions to Harrodsburg.
“We love to bring this caliber of entertainment to small towns,” he said. “Everyone deserves access to something cool.”
“The Sleepy Hollow Experience” premieres Thursday, Sept. 28, at Old Fort Harrod State Park (100 South College Street). Shows at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $39 for adult, $29 for youth show only. The $89 VIP package includes a private haunted indoor cocktail party experience with music and scares inside the mansion 30 minutes prior to the show. For tickets, visit brianclowdus.com or call 859-734-3314.