October 31, 2011

Halloween Economics

Farmers are supporting themselves by making the most of Halloween.

Adriana: Here at the Arasapha Farm outside Philadelphia, Randy Bates grows corn, hay and raises flocks of animals. But twenty years ago, he realized, like many small farmers in America, he wasn’t making enough money to survive. It is a growing problem for many farmers today. Less than half of the 2 million farms in America turn a profit. So some, like Randy, are raising the dead.

“Why are you in my house?”

Adriana: Ghouls and goblins now populate about a quarter of Randy’s farm. It has become a Halloween hot spot, creating jobs for close to 250 people and attracting up to 65,000 visitors in a month.

Randy Bates: What we do in the fall pays our bills for the rest of the year.

Adriana: Last year, Randy grossed more than $1 million — twenty times what he would make as a farmer.

Randy: I got to pinch myself because I can’t believe where we’ve gotten to at this point.

Adriana: It is estimated there are 500 farms in the U.S. that now feature Halloween attractions.  Nationwide, more than, 3,000 haunted theme attractions open their doors every fall earning an estimated half-billion dollars. It turns out there is a science to creating fear. The most effective attractions are designed to slowly build a feeling of controllable anxiety.

“Watch out! Ha ha ha!”

Adriana: Experts say it is in our DNA to crave a good scare.

“These are safe thrills. It’s not like climbing Mt. Everest. You know you are going to come out ok.”

Adriana: Randy is capitalizing on this.

Randy: For the small family farm where you can’t make profit on a large amount of corn, this is the wave of the future.

“Who wants to die first?”

Adriana: For a guy who was once scared to lose his farm, now he is making a living scaring others.

Randy: Hope you guys have a good scare tonight. And if you don’t have a costume yet, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.


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