While many students love October for homecoming season and football weather, many others – myself included – wait all year for Halloween to come around again. If you’re like me, though, you may be a little tired of the normal costume party circuit.
For those willing to escape Clarksville for an evening, a more authentic scare is just down the road.
Only half an hour outside Clarksville, Adams, Tenn., is home to the legend of the Bell Witch. In the early 1800s, the witch supposedly terrorized the Bell family in what was then the small town of Red River.
While the Bell family is no longer around, their property remains where it stood then, and it’s said the witch still resides in a cave nearby.
The Bell Witch Cave can be found at 430 Keysburg Road in Adams. While many people choose to check out the cave themselves, you can book special “Haunted Candlelight Tours,” in which a guide takes you through the Bell cabin and cave.
While I haven’t been to the cave myself, just asking my friends about their trips there uncovered some pretty creepy experiences, especially when photographs were involved.
If you’re not convinced by me, you can read other people’s stories at the cave’s official blog.
Anyone seeking a less hands-on approach to experiencing the Bell Witch may be interested in checking out Adams’ annual Bell Witch Fall Festival.
While the name suggests a Halloween theme, the festival actually lasts from mid-September to the end of October and celebrates local theatre, art and music, as well as the eponymous witch’s legend.
While most of this year’s festival has already passed, it wraps up in true Halloween fashion with “Spirit: The Authentic Story of the Bell Witch of Tennesssee.” Based on the memoir of Richard Williams Bell, “Spirit” details the events between 1818 and 1820 in which the witch tormented frontiersman John Bell.
If you’re looking to be genuinely scared, like I was, this might not be quite the performance for you.
There were several parts involving the more supernatural elements of the story where the special effects were excellent, and the acting kept me believing the story. However, the show was so weighted down with comic relief, it didn’t quite constitute a genuine scare for me.
With that said, “Spirit” is a very good family-friendly Halloween option. The play is definitely not something I’ll lose sleep over, but it is solidly creepy at times and strikes a good balance between the fun and seriousness of the Bell Witch legends.
Moreover, sitting in the Bell School Outdoor Theatre at night, it’s very easy to connect with the old Tennessee heritage the festival is meant to celebrate.
“Spirit” and the Bell Witch Fall Festival take place at the Bell School at 7617 Highway 41 in Adams. Tickets can be bought here or on site, but be careful; there’s no telling what stray spirits might be lurking around on your trip.