Top 5 Midwest Towns for Halloween

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A couple years ago I profiled the Top 8 Small Midwest Towns for Christmas. It of course makes sense to do something similar for Halloween. There are a number of communities that do a great job to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, but there are a few that stick out and are above the rest in what they do. The following is a list of the towns in the upper Midwest that really seem to do it right. They aren’t in any particular order, as they should all be celebrated equally for the work that they do for the festivities.

Pay close attention though, there may be an aspect from one community’s activities that you may want to incorporate into your own. For more information make sure to check out the links in the post to get more on that community’s celebration of Halloween.

Anoka, Minnesota

Anoka proclaims itself as the “Halloween Capital of the World“. They believe that Anoka was the first community to put on a celebration for the holiday. The event was originally organized in 1920 to “divert youngsters from Halloween pranks”.

Not only does the town have the regular pumpkin carving, coloring, and costume contests, it also has day and night parades. There’s even a “Gray Ghost 5k Run”. Yet, the over century-long tradition stands out from other communities for reasons well beyond the family-centric activities. Proceeds from the event go towards supporting local schools and scholarships.

Takeaways: To boldly stake your claim as the Halloween Capital of the World and have the community buy into that claim has numerous impacts. Community pride as well as outside interest into the small town swells when everyone believes in a community image.

Romeo, Michigan

For Romeo, the concentration of their activities is on Tilson Street. Throughout the entire month of October the street’s homes are elaborately decorated in Halloween décor. With the street free to visit 24 hours a day during the month, the community welcomes thousands of visitors each year and 2,000 trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

The community also has the Stoney Creek Orchard and Cider Mill to offer as an attraction during the Halloween season. Visitors can jump on moonlight hayrides on Friday and Saturday nights.

Takeaways: Romeo utilizes the entire month in their celebration. More days of celebration typically means more visitors if done right. Romeo has done it right.

Independence, Kansas

Independence has created their own spin on Halloween. They’ve even spun the name around as they hold an annual Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) Festival each year. The differences from your typical Halloween event do not stop there. It started initially as a series of parades in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Yes, three parades, but that’s not it.

After a hiatus during the depression and World War II the event was revived into a three-day celebration. Now there’s a Doo Dah Parade (adult Kiddie Parade), a Kiddies Parade and a Grand Parade. There’s a carnival, food vendors, an arts & crafts fair, and a whole host of other activities. There’s a even a Queen Neelah Pageant with a whole host of awards.

Takeaways: As this blog often emphasizes, being different is good. Independence’s celebration of Halloween is certainly different, on a grand scale. But it works and people flock there for not just one days of events, but three.

Harbor Springs, Michigan

Much like the other communities on this list, Harbor Spring’s Halloween activities actually start well ahead of October 31st. The Halloween season actually kicks off a few weeks earlier with the annual Great Lakes Glass Pumpkin Patch held outside of the Boyer Glass Works. Visitors are able to meander through a striking display of hand-blown glass pumpkins that have been created by local artists. While in attendance, you can also watch a glass pumpkin being created.

The events culminate at the end of the month with a community-wide Trunk ‘R Treat with a variety of prizes handed out to the best-dressed cars.

Takeaways: If there’s a way to incorporate arts or crafts into an event that makes sense, do it. Adding arts and/or crafts into an event can draw an additional interest sector of visitors to your community. Also, getting the local business community interested in playing a part in community activities has numerous benefits, both short and long term to your community.


Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Long Grove, Illinois

The Halloween season starts early in Long Grove as visitors gather for DIY Scarecrow Day. Those interested are given a wood base, a pile of hay, and a little assistance from scarecrow engineers that are on hand to teach participants how to stuff and dress their very own scarecrow. Each of these scarecrows are then displayed along the streets throughout the community. Visitors are then allowed to vote for their favorites.

But don’t forget that there’s also the pumpkin carving contest and a costume parade….for dogs.

Takeaways: They start early in October so there are more days for visitors to come to the community to enjoy the festivities. Long Grove also looked to a different aspect of Halloween to make them stand out from the rest, the scarecrow. Of course, holding a costume parade for dogs is distinctly different as well.

Final Thoughts

While it is fun to just see what other communities are doing to celebrate the Halloween season, there are a number of aspects that you can draw from these communities to make your town’s event better.