Circus Horrificus to burn 12-foot ‘Pumpkin King’ in Grand Lake this weekend |

Circus Horrificus to burn 12-foot ‘Pumpkin King’ in Grand Lake this weekend

A multi-day Halloween celebration this week in Grand Lake culminates with the burning of a 12-foot effigy of “the Pumpkin King” in the middle of Grand Avenue on Saturday, but not everybody’s looking forward to the bonfire.

At least one local church has asked people not to attend Circus Horrificus or any of its events, saying this should be a time of year that people fill their minds with activities more in line with their Savior’s teachings.

In a church bulletin, a pastor took issue with how the circus has been promoted, as he asked people to avoid it and called on local businesses hosting a handful of burlesque variety shows to cancel.

On the other side of the coin, event organizers describe a time when Grand Lake would see large community-wide Halloween celebrations. They say their only hope with this weekend’s festivities is to reignite the town’s spooky spirit of the past.

“Our goal was to see if we can inspire everyone to do it again in a modern way,” said Morgan Hale, an event organizer, in reference to seeing old pictures of Grand Lake’s Halloweens in the 1980s and 1990s.

Tickets are being sold at, though many of the scheduled events are open to the public and do not require them.

Rather, ticketholders will receive wristbands good for 20% discounts at participating businesses, in addition to access to a handful of shows and events only for ticketholders. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to Shining Stars Foundation and Performance Art.

In addition to burning a 12-foot effigy of the Pumpkin King in the middle of the town’s thoroughfare on Saturday, they’ve set up three days of events, contests and professional performances. In fact, the circus expects to have 13 fire performers leading up to the burning.

The events begin on Thursday with check-ins and registration followed by a costume party at the Gateway Inn. Afterward, there’s to be a fireshow in the inn’s parking lot, followed by a social hour.

On Friday, the circus continues with a pumpkin carving contest at Squeaky B’s open to both children and adults, though carvers must have a ticket or a wristband to participate.

From 7-8 p.m. Friday, there will be the opening ceremony and lighting of the pumpkins followed by a variety show with hula hoops, belly dancing and burlesque at El Pacifico.

Also on Friday, there will be two more 30-minute variety shows beginning at 10 p.m. at the White Buffalo and at midnight at the Lariat Bar and Grill. Anyone without a wristband can buy tickets at the door.

On Saturday morning, Grand Avenue will be closed off to vehicle traffic before children go trick-or-treating at participating businesses along Grand Avenue and Main Street at 2 p.m. After that will be a costume party and circus show from 3-7 p.m. at Daven Haven.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Circus Horrificus will come full circle by burning a 12-foot effigy of the Pumpkin King before a roving interactive mystery theater from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Organizers are also looking for volunteers. To volunteer, call 605-850-8521.

A complete schedule of events is as follows:


9 a.m. — Check-in and registration at Gateway Inn in which people will receive their welcome bundles, register for contests and sign up for volunteer shifts.

4-6 p.m. — Costume party and contest at the Gateway Inn. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. with prizes.

6-6:30 p.m. — Fire show at the Gateway Inn parking lot

7 p.m. — Meet and mingle at White Buffalo Pizza Co. with complimentary appetizers.


5-7 p.m. — Pumpkin Carving at Squeaky B’s. Children and adults are welcome to carve pumpkins or enter already carved pumpkins from home into the contest. You must have a wristband to participate.

7-8 p.m. — Opening Ceremony and Lighting of the Pumpkins: Pumpkin carving contestants will light and display their pumpkins for judging along the boardwalk. You must have a wristband to vote for your favorite pumpkin.

8-8:30  p.m. — Burlesque and variety show at El Pacifico (family friendly variety show with hula hoops, belly dancing, staff performance and burlesque)

9 p.m. to midnight — Acoustic Eels at The Lariat Bar and Grill

10-10:30 p.m. — Burlesque Side Show at The White Buffalo (Burlesque, wing dancing, mime)

Midnight to 12:30 a.m. — Burlesque Show at The Lariat Bar and Grill (Burlesque, double staff performance, hoops, and balloon burlesque)


2 p.m. — Trick-Or-Treating at businesses along Grand Avenue and Main Street 

3-7 p.m. — Daven Haven Costume Party & Circus Show: We welcome one and all to the greatest show of the circus! We will have a large fire pit for warmth and community, two circus troupes performing, roaming circus characters mingling, sword swallowing, a hair suspension performance, fire performance, and our friend Xuza the Art Car will be hanging out with us. All ages are welcome.

7:30-8 p.m. — Effigy Conclave Performance: Center of Grand Ave and Main Street with 13 professional fire performers putting on a show before the Pumpkin King effigy is ignited.

8 p.m. — Burning of the Pumpkin King

8:30-1 a.m. — Roving Interactive Mystery Theater: Unlock Center of Grand Ave/Main Street

9 p.m. to midnight — Acoustic Eels at The Lariat Bar and Grill.

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