DUBOIS — A haunted attraction in Clark County at the Civil Defense Caves will not open up this year for the spooky season but instead, it will be back bigger and better in 2023.
The haunted attraction is at a historic venue and opened for the first time in 2021. It’s called The Bootleggers Grave and it’s named after a criminal who was brutally murdered in the early 1900s. At least some of his body was stashed in a nearby cave to be found decades later.
This year, the caves will be revamped for the event. Kriss Williams III, the founder of The Bootleggers Grave, said his company Mayak LLC has partnered with the Dubois Lions Club and Herb Dean, who is an American professional mixed martial arts referee for the UFC.
Williams said part of the reason the attraction isn’t coming back for Halloween this year is because of the economy and how expensive gas is. It’s a bit of a trip to get to Dubois.
“We decided it would be best to kind of shut the doors this year and make it the best experience we can,” he explained to EastIdahoNews.com.
Williams said it was a good opening year in 2021. A total of $15,000 from ticket sales to the attraction went back into the community for scholarships to local kids and a veterans memorial.
The haunted attraction next year will again follow the storyline of Joseph Henry Loveless. Part of the mystique about the attraction is the fact it’s based around a real unsolved murder that has puzzled investigators for a century. A cave near the venue is the final resting place of Loveless.
His headless body was found among the Civil Defense Caves in 1979, and researchers discovered his body had been there since 1916. It wasn’t until 2019 that investigators were able to prove the identity of the man and his colorful criminal past.
To this day, nobody knows who killed the bootlegger.
The haunted attraction will start in a lot near a gas station in Dubois. As people wait, there will be a fire and a cowboy poet named “Bob Jackson” who will be telling stories.
“We’ll have excellent food. We’ll have some good entertainment there and a place for people to hang out if they just want to hang out a little bit and listen to scary stories,” Williams said.
There will be a hayride through the town of Dubois, then people will get dropped off at the caves to explore various rooms throughout The Bootleggers Grave.
“We are going to make (the hayride) more conformable for the passengers because it is colder so we are looking at some different vehicles to accommodate that,” Williams said.
He explained he is working with some people out of California that are involved with different Halloween events. He is working on some custom costumes and better decorations. There’s also a newly added surprise for people in 2023.
“I am not going to mention any names right now but we’ve got some pretty exciting people that are quite famous that are also going to be coming out and be a part of either the actors in the cave or be on the hayride or both,” he said.
There will be a treasure hunt, cash prizes and a larger prize that Williams plans to give away.
A website will be launched for The Bootleggers Grave in about three or four weeks with information that he hopes will get people excited for next year.
Williams is expecting 2023 will be a good experience with the new additions. Plus, he wants it to be a bit scarier.
“Some people were really scared just going down into the cave. That scares a lot of people all on its own. But we had some of the tougher crowd that said they didn’t get scared at all so we are going to make sure we scare them,” Williams said.