Zombies in Tillsonburg? That would be the 1st annual Tillsonburg Zombie Adventure on Saturday, July 23 at Memorial Park, with emphasis on 'adventure.'
Co-sponsored by the Tillsonburg Tri-County Fair and Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club, Tillsonburg's first Zombie Adventure is open to both walkers and runners, children and adults. The idea is to pass through the zombie-infested Memorial Park paths - safely - to reach the finish line.
"I had just finished watching the rest of the season of Walking Dead on Netflix," said CJ Watters, who came up with the zombie fundraising idea. "A couple of my friends told me they liked the 'scary house' in Niagara Falls... and I just kind of went with it."
Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and others might have added inspiration.
"My favourite was Dawn of the Dead," said Joe Antonissen, dressed in full zombie gear. "It's one of the originals."
"Zombieland!" said Freak Show, also modelling a zombie outfit. "You know they're making a sequel for that? That movie was so good!"
"I thought it would work well with our trail system here," said Frank Kempf, a member of the Tillsonburg Tri-County Agricultural Society who was looking for ideas that could be organized by the fairboard and Optimists. "I contacted Mandi (Byrnes) and we agreed to do a joint venture as a fundraising event."
Port Dover has a food drive walk and St. Thomas a festival, but Tillsonburg's 'Adventure' is unique in this area. The zombies will be waiting on the trails.
"You're going to have three ribbons," said Kempf. "And if you lose all of your ribbons you become infected. If that happens, you can buy another ribbon to cure the infection and you can continue.
"There will be different things happening on the trail - it's not just a running event. But we don't want to give away all our surprises. We'll be using the cattle barn, the trails... things like that."
Runners start first, walkers follow. The 5 km event (approximate distance) is open to children and adults.
"And everyone comes back to the fairgrounds for the After Party," said Kempf, noting After Party headliner April Wine will be performing outdoors that night.
If all goes according to plan they'd like to see hundreds of walkers and runners.
And how many zombies?
"Just say 'we're going to have enough that they better have their runner-legs with them,'" Kempf laughed. "I'm sure we'll easily have at least 30 zombies."
"With the amount of support we've had since we put it on Facebook," nodded Byrnes.
"We also want to keep it safe," Kempf stressed. "We don't want so many zombies that someone is going to get hurt. The trail system we have here is not that wide... so we can have two here, two there... We don't want to have people tripping on top of each other."
"It's family friendly," said Byrnes.
"And there's no 'hands-on,'" said Kempf. "It's just ribbons."
Registration is $20 per adult runner, $10 per adult walker, and $5 for children 12-and-under. Gates open at 2 p.m., runners start at 2:30 and walkers 3 p.m.
For any questions, email email@example.com.
Following the Adventure there will be an After Party in Memorial Park. The lineup includes local opener King Cashew, followed by Rocket Queen, a Guns and Roses tribute band, and the headliner April Wine, featuring Carl Dixon, formally of The Guess Who and Coney Hatch.
Entertainment is expected to play from 7-10:30 p.m.
"Carl was so good," said Kempf, recalling a Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project fundaiser in April at The Bridges. "He got a standing ovation. And that's why we're going to bring him back. It was sold out at the golf course, so we wanted to bring the whole band back."
Admission to the park after 5 p.m., for those who did not participate in the Adventure, is $10.
If anyone is interested in volunteering as a zombie, email the organizing committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizers thanked Tranquility Salon and Beauty Centre, who will be doing the zombie makeup.