Liam Butler and Jackie Steeves pose for a photo outside of their creation, a haunted house that plays on phobias. The display will be up through Halloween, but not much longer than that, as everything is usually taken down in time for Remembrance Day. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake property bringing back traditional Halloween

Jackie Steeves and Liam Butler are the duo behind That House on Herder Drive

The duo behind “That Halloween House on Herder Drive” say they started in hopes of giving the community something to be proud of while giving kids something to look forward too.

Over the past seven years Jackie Steeves and Liam Butler have become known around Sylvan Lake, and even beyond, for their impressive displays and spooky themes built on their front yard.

While they enjoy putting in the effort to be “that house” they say it wasn’t their intention to seek attention when they started.

“They weren’t a lot of things for kids at Halloween here, and because of that a lot of kids were, let’s say causing trouble,” said Butler.

“That’s why we started, to give the community something to be proud of.”

They say they were inspired by “that spooky house” from childhood, the one every kid had in their neighbourhood no matter where they lived.

Butler said the inspiration came from the scared feeling kids have from going to the house, but it always made the best stories.

“You know, that house that scared everyone but everyone had to go, that was what we wanted to be,” said Butler.

The two started fairly simply, says Steeves, adding most of the decorations that first year were from the dollar store.

Now, many of the props, monsters and mannequins are created specifically for them by Butler.

“It is a year-round process,” said Steeves. “Usually we start planning the next year while we are setting up.”

Steeves said inspiration can come from online Halloween communities, a news story or something that was found in the stores.

A creature for the display can take upwards of three weeks to build and the overall setup takes two months.

Steeves and Butler usually work on all the details right up until the big day on Oct. 31.

“We have a group that finds us quite shocking,” said Butler.

“But, we strive to keep it as family and community friendly as possible,” added Steeves.

The spooky feel of the display and walk through is all because of phobias, according to Butler.

The duo wanted to go a different route than some of the more “traditional haunts” and make the scares and spooks more subliminal than jump scares.

Which is why they feel the hunt is still considered family and community friendly.

“Because we play on fears, most kids aren’t even phased as they walk through,” said Butler. “It is the older teens and adults who are usually freaked out.”

Steeves said some kids do get scared walking through, but the living mannequins are good about watching the body language of kids to make sure they can walk through “without needing a lifetime of therapy.”

More often than not it is the small details, which are everywhere in the spook house, that wind up scaring older patrons.

“We are subtle in our scares… All that is needed is a simple touch to set someone off,” said Butler.

Since Steeves and Butler first began to put up their display seven years ago, they have noticed the Halloween spirit has spread not only along Herder Drive but in other communities in Sylvan Lake.

Steeves said she has noticed more and more people along Herder decorate for the season and has heard of similar haunts being erected and is thrilled.

“Hardly anyone was doing Halloween when he started… it was dying,” said Steeves. “Now the street has levelled up and we are seeing more around town too.”

The haunted house also works to help a local charity. In years past the house accepted donations to the Sylvan Lake Food Bank.

This year Steeves and Butler have partnered with the charity Moving Forward to New Beginnings.

Chris Ehret uses this charity as a way to help domestic violence victims get out of bad situations.

“We’ll be accepting voluntary donation to New Beginnings and Chris will be there to talk to people as well,” said Steeves.

Children will also receive a treat after braving the haunted house, after all what is trick or treating without a treat.

Treats handed out on Halloween are sponsored by Steeves Trucking. Butler and Steeves expect to see around 1,000 children this year.

“Without the sponsors we wouldn’t be able to do this, that is for sure,” said Steeves.

“We try to do this with no or as little cost as possible, and we just wouldn’t be able to afford the amount of candy we would need,” said Butler.

Children often begin coming to the house as early as 4 p.m. on Halloween and the house has stayed open as late as 11 p.m. for the brave adults.

Steeves and Butler say all are welcome to take a walk through the spook house on Halloween.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Decorate your vehicle for display at the second annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 . (Blakc Press File Photo)
Sylvan Lake church to host a socially distanced Trunk or Treat on Halloween

Goblins and ghouls can go around to vehicles for their tricks or treats at the Alliance Church

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Most Read