Reserving a campsite at Starve Hollow State Recreation Area for Halloween weekend is like trying to get hot concert tickets.
If you don’t make campsite or rent-a-camp cabin reservations when they open six months in advance, it’s likely you won’t get one of the 168 spots available.
Since 2010, Stacey Williams of Seymour and her family have stayed at the Vallonia campground for Halloween weekend.
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She said they have learned to make reservations as early as possible, mainly so her group of friends with campers can have spots near each other.
“I put it on our calendar for six months in advance, and then I send a text out to all of our friends, and I’m like, ‘If you want to get these sites, let’s all get on at the same time,’” she said.
“We started talking about at some point, we’re going to have to start parking out here all week to get (a spot),” she said. “Last year, we tried to get in on Friday, and we had a really hard time. A lot of us couldn’t get together. Just trying to get in on the weekend, there were only sites left all spread out last year.”
This year, the group chose to come out Thursday, which was a day earlier than in the past.
“We were joking like next year, it’s going to have to be Wednesday, the next year, it’s going to have to be Tuesday. Then we’re eventually going to be pulling out our camper like Oct. 15 to get out here,” she said, laughing.
The first year Williams and her husband, Kris, camped at Starve Hollow on Halloween weekend, it was only them and two other couples. Now, their group has grown to about 10 families. Most of them are Schneck Medical Center employees and their kids.
“As time went on and our kids got older and they enjoyed Halloween, it just became a thing, and they look forward to this more than the neighborhood trick-or-treating,” Stacey said.
Since they live in the country near Dudleytown, the Williamses and their three boys — ages 3, 5 and 7 — typically go to family members’ neighborhoods in Seymour for trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
But Stacey said the boys like it at Starve Hollow because they get to spend time with their friends and go from camper to camper to collect candy.
“Here, it’s all of their friends that they hang out with, and then we all come back together and have a meal together,” she said. “We’re here for a few days, and we’re here as a family, and everybody decorates, and it’s festive. They just think it’s a ball.”
Stacey said the boys always wind up with a lot of candy.
“I think they like dressing up, and they like seeing other people’s costumes,” she said. “All of the adults dress up, too, and I think they get a kick out of that. They like seeing their parents be silly. It’s a fun tradition, and the kids look forward to it.”
A bonus Saturday was the unseasonably warm 80-degree temperature.
“It’s beautiful weather,” Stacey said. “We’ve had really good luck with weather the last few years, too. It hasn’t been bad. This is crazy. This is like Miami right now.”
Property manager Brad Schneck said Starve Hollow has been building its Halloween weekend since 2007.
Along with trick-or-treating through the campground, Saturday’s activities included crafts, pumpkin games, a costume contest and a haunted house.
“Each year, we grew, always trying to be creative and make it fun for the families that choose to stay with us,” Schneck said.
He said his staff members put a lot of time and effort into Saturday’s event, and Starve Hollow received several donations to make it fun for participants.
Trick-or-treating was the most popular activity, drawing those camping for the weekend and others visiting the campground to get candy a couple of days before Halloween.
Mike and Rita Stuckwisch, who live west of Seymour, have been able to land a campsite the past few years.
This year, they weren’t able to get a spot in the full hookup area, so they settled for the electric hookup area.
“Everybody jumps on it six months ahead,” Mike said. “Normally, we like to be in the full hookup this time of year, but we were able to get this lot here. We almost missed it here.”
Rita said it’s nice to have a place to camp close to home.
“Usually, family comes out, and we just sit around and enjoy life,” she said. “It’s close to home, and if you leave something at home, you can go get it.”
The couple took turns handing out bags of pretzels Saturday. When Mike wasn’t doing that, he had some fun with trick-or-treaters by pulling down a rubber spider connected to a fishing pole line.
“The kids, they just get a kick out of it,” he said, smiling.
The Stuckwisches both said they were enjoying the warm weather and seeing all of the trick-or-treaters, including their grandchildren.
“We try to get as many of the grandkids out as we can, but we don’t always get them all,” Mike said. “We just have fun.”
On another side of the campground, Charity Clodfelder of Brownstown and her family handed out candy to kids.
This was their third year camping at Starve Hollow for Halloween.
“We grew up in Vallonia, so we’ve always come out to Starve Hollow,” Clodfelder said. “But we recently got our camper, and friends had told us, ‘Oh, you have to come out for Starve Hollow Halloween.’”
Clodfelder and her sister, Chastity Johnson of Brownstown, alternate booking a campsite at Starve Hollow for each holiday.
For Halloween, it was Johnson’s turn. Knowing how fast the campsites fill up, she made reservations as soon as she could.
“I just like the idea that everyone gets into it,” Johnson said of Halloween weekend at Starve Hollow. “Everybody is giving out candy, everybody gets into it and it’s just a fun time.”
Clodfelder said she likes how people decorate their campsites and adults dress up to trick or treat along with their kids. She said she was most impressed with the family that dressed up like characters from the “Ghostbusters” movie and even had a replica Ecto-1 vehicle.
“Everyone just enjoys it,” she said. “Especially this year, the weather is awesome.”
Her husband, Darrell Clodfelder, said it was probably the best weekend weather-wise they have had.
He also liked seeing the different costumes people wore.
“The creativity that the kids come up with and also the parents get involved, so it’s neat to see when the families do it,” he said.
The family had two camping spots reserved for the weekend.
One of their family members, Becky Eastham of Vallonia, said it was a nice weekend to spend time with family, from handing out candy to eating by the campfire.
“It’s always awesome to come out here and see all of the kids enjoying themselves so much,” she said.
Residential trick-or-treating is set for today in these Jackson County communities:
Medora: 5 to 8 p.m.
Brownstown: 6 to 8 p.m.
Seymour: 6 to 8 p.m.