Among the many treasures at Tranquille Farm Fresh is a huge stack of printouts of newspaper articles on the historic site, a record that goes back decades. And, tucked into one of those articles, something site development manager Tim McLeod called a society column, was a paragraph about the sudden death of the cook at Tranquille.
It didn't have much information, not even naming the unfortunate person, but it was a nugget of inspiration, one that has led to the creation of Dr. Padova's Halloween Carnival.
From Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, some of the buildings and tunnels will be open and filled with clues that, at the end of the tours, should lead to the identity of the cook's murderer. Just as it was on the night of the cook's death, a circus and band will be at the property at 4600 Tranquille Rd., well past Kamloops Airport -- and everyone is, as Tim describes them, broken.
"Everything's broken," he said. "You don't know where you will find people. Many of them are the suspect, but are they? Maybe you talk to one and they say 'Go check out the clown over there, he has a motive'."
Participants receive a passbook in which they can record where they've been and what clues they've found, said Annette McLeod.
It's perhaps the largest theatrical undertaking at the site, Tim said, with a cast of about 40, many musicians and a technical team in the background that brings the entire cast and crew to at least 100 people.
He said a production this large required bringing in partners, including the Big Little Science Centre, which will be running a CSI-like laboratory in the laundry room, and Dr. Von Hooligan's Carnival Calamities, which will recreate part of the festivities from the night of the cook's untimely demise. Chimera Theatre, Let's Move Dance Studio, Infernol Art Productions and GK Sound also have key roles to play.
The Kelowna-based carnival comes with a big top, ringmaster and headliners, but no animals. And, McLeod said, there will also be "all the unhealthy food you would find at a circus."
The exterior of some of the buildings will come into play in a unique way, as well, he said, all to add to the spooky atmosphere, but to also provide some other entertainment for those who might make it through the tour, but want to spend more time at the site.
There's a bit of a script, McLeod said, because there is a story that has to be told. But the actors have been given the leeway to improvise, "to ramp it up or down. The goal is to surprise you, to entertain you and to educate you" about a part of Tranquille's history."
For those familiar with the site's tunnel tours, there are new aspects this year, including a secret entrance to one of the tunnels that was discovered earlier this year. The evening is designed to be scary and the McLeods suggest it's appropriate for those 16 years and older.
The tour lasts about an hour. The goal is to avoid lineups, so tickets must be bought in advance. The evening is timed to send a new group of clue seekers into the dark every 30 minutes. Should there be a delay or for people who want to enjoy the atmosphere, there will plenty of other on-side theme-appropriate entertainment.
Annette said the evening's not one of gore and zombies, but is taking advantage of the fact the couple lives at and manages a ghost town. Tickets are $35 each and available online at tranquillefarmfresh.ca. The search for clues and the identity of the killer start at 5:30 p.m. and continues to 10:30 p.m.