ZUMBROTA -- Ted Galaty is not a scary guy.
But when he's dressed as his October alter-ego, Draco, that'll all change.
"I grew up in California. Where I lived, we had directors and screenwriters as neighbors," Galaty said.
Putting on a show was part of the culture, and putting on a haunt – a good scary show – appealed to a young Galaty.
"My mom, at the time, let me take the front two rooms of our house and decorate it," he said. He used dummies, props and sheets to create his haunting space. "We had people coming 45 minutes in LA traffic to see it."
Today, Galaty operates Fright at the Farm, the haunted scare experience just south of Zumbrota on U.S. Highway 52. He also owns the Olde Pine Theatre, where he will run a second haunted experience this fall. That spooky experience is another tour with live actors playing denizens of an authentic -- but haunted -- 1950s theater.
Southeast Rochester Scares
After haunting his house in high school back in California, Galaty moved around, taking part in local theater productions instead of frightening folks each October. But that changed about a dozen years ago, in Southeast Rochester.
As he got older and moved out on his own, Galaty had stopped putting on haunts each year. That was, until about a dozen years ago when he set up a haunted house in his Rochester home that – over a three-year span – drew more and more people.
The last year, they had a line an hour-long. "One weekend, we had 1,500 people come through," he said.
That drew the attention of the Olmsted County zoning enforcement, which suggested Galaty find a new venue the next year. Fortunately, a relationship with the History Center of Olmsted County helped secure that new venue.
For four years, Galaty and his crew haunted the History Center before moving out to the farm near Zumbrota.
"Every year, we try to add to it, change it," Galaty said. "We've got repeat customers, people going to other haunts."