For many years, Canobie Lake Park would cease their "open every day" operation after Labor Day, then stay open weekends for the rest of September to slowly wrap up their year. That all changed in 2008 when CLP agreed to host SpookyWorld. As James pointed out on the old site, this was a first--Canobie being open in October, and as late as November 1! On paper, it looked like a dream matchup, and it was a very enjoyable event, but from what I understand, CLP was too kid-friendly for SpookyWorld's tastes, so they parted ways, but it inspired Canobie to come up with its own Halloween-themed event.....
In the fall of 2009, the very first ScreeemFest season took place, and it was a huge success. The park was transformed into a Halloween wonderland with haunted houses, walk-around monsters, and Halloween-related shows (Monster Bash Rock & Roll Revue and Circus of the Strange) including a monster parade. The latter show featured David Hagerman, who is now an icon at CLP!
In 2010, CLP added OktoberFest to their fall season, with a real celebration in the center of the park, complete with oom-pah bands, bratwurst, a beer garden, and staff dressed in lederhosen. The old roller skating rink--which had been used for storage for years--was reconstructed to become a haunted duplex (The Dead Shed and Merriment, Incorporated). This was also the year that SimonWill Entertainment returned to CLP, and they added a Tribute to Prince (Frank Moore), with introduction by "Ozzy Osbourne" (Alan Kaye), who also roamed the park.
The two 'Fests continued into 2011 with Mini-KISS and an outstanding Tribute to Madonna with the fabulous Melissa Totten, along with a special fireworks display called "Terrify The Sky". Both musical acts returned in 2012, along with a special attraction called Autumn Fairgrounds where local artisans practice their craft, selling homemade food items (jams, jellies, maple syrup) and old park signage and fixtures.
2013 was the year that OktoberFest morphed into "RocktoberFest" with Bonfire, an AC/DC tribute band, headlining the fall entertainment, along with the not-for-the-faint-of-heart SwingShift SideShow, which despite its cringe-worthy stunts, drew huge crowds to the MidWay Stage! Going forward, RocktoberFest would become a concert series with several different rock tribute bands (including Bonfire) playing throughout the fall season: Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Sting/The Police, Journey, Foreigner, ZZ Top, KISS, and Eagles. The SwingShift SideShow also returned, and in 2015 the park also gave us Tribute to Michael Jackson (Eddie Moss): GHOSTS which featured 16 dancing zombies (12 walk-around characters, plus the 4 SimonWill dancers in the show), The Globe: Extreme Motorcycle Stunts, which had initially played over that summer, and the top three finalists in the park's Battle of the Bands summer contest performing for the crowds.
In 2016, the Tribute to Prince returned, after the artist had passed away earlier that year, and the show was a huge hit with the crowd. The Tribute to Michael Jackson: GHOSTS came back for its second year with The Boys of Summer's Javon playing the King of Pop, and the SwingShift SideShow returned for its 4th year at CLP.
Since the inaugural ScreeemFest, the haunts have become major attractions at the park. Merriment, Incorporated has morphed into Carnivus, The Dead Shed was replaced by the Canobie Lake Hotel, and The Village is the one original haunt that is still featured today. Additionally, we have Virus and the Black Hollow Cove. ScreeemFest is enjoyed not only by the guests, but also the cast members who clearly love what they do!
So, what started as a few weekends in the fall has grown by leaps and bounds into a major autumn event for the park. I'm proud to have been a part of it since the beginning and I look forward to many more in the years to come!
These are stories from some of the most loyal Canobie fans. Our passion for the park shines through in our descriptions & words. These are our stories. Enjoy...