The Rockford Prison Riot Unleashes the Complete Original Overhaul of Fear Fair in Seymour, IN.

Fear Fair Haunted House

We interview Fear Fair creator/owner, Brett Hays, about the completion of his nationally recognized haunted attraction’s multi-year transformation into an all original haunt!

Brett Hays, Fear Fair

GO TO JAIL: Go directly to jail. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. You might say that Fear Fair’s creator/owner/operator, Brett Hays, has a “monopoly” on the Southern Indiana haunt business as the only major haunted attraction between Louisville and Indianapolis. Still an all-volunteer, charity haunt associated with its’ local chapter of the Seymour Jaycees, Fair Fear defies the traditional description of a non-profit haunt.

Now entering its’ 18th season in Seymour, IN., Fear Fair is a massive attraction broken down into four different themed areas: Ascension, Voodoo, Plague and the newly introduced Rockford Riot, which all combine to give guests an intense 30-minute plus Halloween adventure into these wildly different realms of the bizarre and the blood-curdling. Owner Brett Hays also moonlights as the mysterious DJ Fear who mesmerizes the queue line with boisterous dance beats set to a laser/fog show worthy of a Hollywood rave party.

It wasn’t always this way. Just a few short years ago, Fear Fair was renowned for it’s Hollywood accurate movie sets and recognizable horror cinema icons: Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Jason, Jigsaw, Ghostface, Pyramid Head and all of their horror movie and video game brothers and sisters. Guests would drive from Louisville, Indianapolis and even hours further away to experience the Fear Fair Film Festival and all of their favorite silver screen bogeymen brought to life and in their face!

Fear Fair

That all began to change with the arrival of a cease and desist letter from Trancas International Films in 2014. Hays, an attorney with Smith Law Services in Seymour, IN., could see the writing on the wall. The days of local haunted houses filled with licensed movie characters were as numbered as the slasher movie victims in the films themselves. Your attraction either would need to be small enough to avoid detection of studio lawyers or big enough to afford the huge licensing fees associated with these characters. Fear Fair was neither of these things.

I sat down with Hays recently to discuss his career as a haunter and the evolving nature of Fear Fair.

Talk a little about your earliest memories of Halloween and some of your early love of horror movies and scary things.

My earliest memory is when my parents took me to the local Jaycees Haunted House, where I totally peed my pants. But I was hooked! I began construction on my own haunted house in the loft of my parents barn the next day. A few years later I would host my church youth group Halloween party at our house complete with the haunted house walk-through. So much fun.

How many seasons did it take to convert Fear Fair into a completely original haunt?

Well, the process began, rather abruptly when we received a cease and desist notice from Trancas International Films who own the rights to the Halloween (Michael Myers) movies and characters. It seems that there had been a number of posts on Universal Halloween Horror Nights web site and social media accounts regarding this haunted house in Indiana with an amazing Halloween section. This prompted Universal (who was paying six-figure royalty fees to Trancas) to contact Trancas and start asking questions. I had some lengthy discussions with their VP of Legal Affairs regarding the transformative use and Fair Use exceptions to the 1976 Copyright Act. In the end, we agreed that I ‘might‘ be on solid ground with my use of the character, but his board of directors was insisting they sue us if we didn’t immediately discontinue the usage. This is understandable because if I were okay with using it, that would mean that Universal was also okay and there go the licensing fees.

Fear Fair

Not being in position to fund a legal defense of that sort, we decided the time had come to switch over to original content. The Halloween scene became a hillbilly abduction scenario for the remainder of the 2014 season and we began the transformation in earnest with replacing all of our Slasher scenes with the Voodoo section in 2015. Over the next couple of years, we replaced our Walking Dead scenes with Plague and now with the addition of Rockford Riot this year, which replaced Silent Hill and Saw, the transformation is complete. It’s been really freeing and I think the direction we needed to go anyway.  So I’m actually thankful for the not so gentle nudge in that direction.

How did your years of experience as a lawyer apply to the creation of the new prison scenes?

In my practice, I do a lot of criminal defense work. In years past I have been a public defender. so I’ve seen the inside of a lot of different jails and correctional facilities. I definitely drew upon that when designing the scenes for Rockford Riot.

How did you come up with the idea your DJ character and how did that whole setup come about?

Being about 45 minutes from any major city, we always struggle to get enough cast members, so queue line entertainment was always an issue.  I was looking for something that would entertain the lines with less manpower and I have always enjoyed doing DJ work.  I did it a lot in college for Fraternity parties, etc.  Fear Fair had also taken up the time I used to devote to the over-the-top Christmas display I used to build at home. It was quite a production with 300+ channels of Light-O-Rama control and DMX lighting, so doing the stage at the haunt let me play in that world a bit as well.  Then I began getting opportunities to DJ at industry conventions, etc. I didn’t want to just do it as myself, as that seemed boring, so DJ Fear was born.

For attraction dates, times and tickets check out Fear Fair’s website at

The Phantom of The Ville

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