History of the Jaycees Feargrounds
The Sioux Falls Jaycees first haunted house opened in 1974 inside of the George Abbott house at 415 S. Minnesota Ave. The house itself had been built in 1887 but had fallen into disrepair after remaining vacant for years. When the Jaycees proposed to the city that they use the house for the project, Mayor Rick Knobe said, “It has got to be the spookiest-looking house in town.”
When doors opened in 1974, the haunted house was only open to the public for 3 days, October 28th – 31st, and one private visitation day for visitors from what is now Lifescape and the School of the Deaf. The first year was ultimately a success, with visitors lined up for blocks. The Abbot house used 13 rooms for the haunt, with doors for both entry and egress to keep visitors moving through efficiently and keep the lines as short as possible.
The traditional opening of the haunted house started the following year with the arrival of Dracula’s coffin in an ancient hearse. Only once dracula arrived would visitors be allowed to enter. There were occasions where Dracula would try more unconventional means of transportation such as a hot air balloons until 1979 when a freak windstorm caused the balloon to land in Tuthill Park. Members of the Jaycees had to scramble and quickly capture him before he could be set loose on Sioux Falls residents!
Moving the House Location
The old Abbot house caught fire due to suspected arson in August of 1987, officially ending it’s reign as the Jaycees Haunted House location when it was slated for demolition. The haunted house was then moved to the Western Mall between 1998 and 1997 (with the exception of 1991-1992 when it relocated temporarily to Empire East). The Jaycees Haunted House moved to its current location at the Fine Arts Building at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in 1998.
Rebranding as the Jaycees Feargrounds
Previously known as the Sioux Falls Jaycees Haunted House, the haunted house rebranded as the Jaycees Feargrounds in 2019 as an effort to give the haunt a unique identify and keep the project relevant in today’s haunted attractions industry. You can read more about the rebrand on our blog!
Giving Back to the Community
The Jaycees Haunted House has grown to become the largest fundraiser and volunteer driver for the Sioux Falls Jaycees, and also provides the greatest opportunities for members to take on leadership roles within management and volunteer staff. Proceeds from ticket sales support all Jaycees projects, including the 4th of July Fireworks and Holiday Gifts for Kids. Visit siouxfallsjaycees.org for more information on Jaycees projects.