Frightening for Food Promises Good Scares for a Good Cause

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

Frightening for Food coalesced out of two of Troy “Stinky” Philpott’s passions, helping the Salvation Army’s Two Weeks of Love and organizing phenomenal holiday celebrations. A racecar driver, Stinky and his racing friends got behind Two Weeks of Love right from the start, challenging each other to see who could get the most food donations.

In 2011, Stinky switched racetracks but still wanted to help Two Weeks of Love. For several years, Stinky had run a haunted house out of his family’s home. It started as an impromptu Halloween display for a party built on some hay bales waiting to get picked up that had grown into a small haunted house for close friends and any neighborhood children Stinky could round up. While talking with some friends from his band, Stinky came up with the idea of charging a can of food as admission for his haunted house and Frightening for Food debuted.

Frightening for Food started small; Stinky felt accomplished if he brought in a single bin of food. However, he knew he could do more. In 2011, he started getting the word out about Frightening for Food through any media outlet that would listen. The results amazed him. When he peeked out his front door to see if anyone had come, he saw a line forming and people just kept coming. “We had so much food that I was afraid the porch would give way!” he recalls.

From there, Freezing for Food grew into a sensational community event. Each year, Stinky and his crew put their heads together to come up with the best way to bring in more visitors and donations. In fact, Stinky has even received help from people around the country and world. Each year, Stuart Smith, an internationally renowned airbrush artist from Michigan, donates several decorative panels. One year, Stinky’s friend, Terri Bracey from New Zealand, even visited for several weeks to help him set up. From converting a crate into a “University of Iowa” experiment gone wrong with a ghoul inside, and driving it around on a truck during recess to hype up local kids, to having visitors clamor over a cage with forty live rats, Stinky’s House of Horrors has earned its status as the region’s premier haunted house.

To keep teen and adult visitors on their toes, Stinky has several new attractions this year. A swamp room with stunning visual effects will surprise even veteran haunted house goers, as will the new devil filled cemetery and freak show areas. To add a new level of sensory terror, each room will feature realistic scents, conveying everything from swamp gas to animal carcasses. For those whose fright gives them an appetite, Pit Crew Barbeque will have a food truck at the event for the first time ever and will donate a portion of all profits back to the event.

If experiencing a night of pure terror for a good cause appeals to you, Stinky encourages you to come out to Frightening for Food. The haunted house opens at dusk on Halloween night (typically around 6:00 pm) and runs until fifteen minutes after the last visitor leaves. Admission costs one can of food, or twelve cans to go through the “Axpress” lane. As the event averages 800 to 1,000 visitors, bringing the extra cans can easily shave forty-five minutes off your wait time. Whatever method you choose, all of your donations will contribute to an excellent cause (Stinky gave 5,673 pounds of food to Two Weeks of Love last year) and will give you a haunting you will not soon forget.

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