HUMPHREY — In the spirit of Halloween entertainment, the owners of Tickletown are planning a series of fundraisers that will take place every Friday and Saturday night throughout October from 7 to 10:30 p.m.
Proceeds from the Haunted House-themed fundraisers will help pay for much-needed renovations.
Affectionately known as Tickletown, Humphrey’s old general store has been undergoing a major overhaul. Built in 1865, the historic building located at 4484 Humphrey Road has seen better days.
Since the building is currently in disrepair and looks haunted as is, owners Dr. Joe Stahlman and his wife, Dr. Fileve Palmer, have decided to do this series of fundraisers.
“Given the current state, if repairs are delayed, Tickletown will slowly be reclaimed by nature,” Palmer said. “That’s why we decided to embrace the creepiness of all that Tickletown has to offer and run a month-long fundraising series of haunted houses to build community awareness, establish contacts with local businesses and bring people to the unique location.”
With the help of volunteers and sponsors, Tickletown will turn into a space for creativity, fantasy and fun. Palmer said volunteers will be dressing up in costumes and participants are encouraged to wear them as well.
In a recent press release about the event, Palmer said, “Come in from the cold, as you are guided into a theatre where you will be summoned to enter the unliving quarters. Frolic with the spirits of the wild, remains of the dead and energies of the past. Run from the building into our backyard where you will have the opportunity to commune with the witches/warlocks around the fire.”
Participants are advised to enter the attraction at their own risk. They will experience intense audio, lighting, low visibility, strobe lights, fog, damp or wet conditions, special effects and sudden actions. People who suffer from any type of medical problem should not take part in this activity. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. Snacks will be available for purchase.
In 2015, former owner Lois Hilton held an essay contest to win the store-turned-community center. Tickletown was gifted to the second runners up, Stahlman and Palmer, in 2016, when the original winner backed out of the enterprise.
Between the couple’s consulting work, teaching yoga, volunteering and Stahlman’s new position as director of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, they have slowly been renovating Tickletown.
To create more space, the old greenhouse that fell into disrepair has been taken down — as was the enclosed side porch. The small pond on the east side of the facility was filled in by the town road crew to create parking, which was often a contentious issue for the neighbors.
“As walls come down, new spaces are created and old ones are reimagined,” Palmer said. “While it currently looks a mess, sometimes you must destroy to reveal beauty, and that’s just what we are doing.”
Palmer and Stahlman plan to honor Hilton’s vision of keeping this venue the center of a local living, sustainable, economic community, in the town. The couple are excited to put on educational events and workshops that bring people from all over to engage in creative discussions, promote health and wellness, as well as enjoy life.
Drawing on community expertise, two longtime Tickletowners have offered to run ‘fix-it clinics’ to teach people how to fix broken appliances and furniture. Palmer said she has been contacted by other community members who want to do workshops involving weaving, yarn-crafts and making flatbread.
“Whatever people want to do, it’s all good,” she said. “We want to encourage people’s creativity. Eventually, when everything is set, we’d like to make a little gallery space for those people.”
Palmer recently finished working with AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Belmont. Eventually, she would like to reach out to the extension office and have them come to do some workshops at Tickletown.