Zombies covered in oozing, glowing paint. Zombies chasing human victims, causing hearts to race on a 3.1-mile course. Zombies sampling brews as they crawl from pub to pub. Call it a zombie apocalypse, if you will, or just a scary good time in the Bismarck-Mandan area.
The Battlefield, Mandan Zombie 5k Run and Zombie Pub Crawl are three events taking place just ahead of October’s main event — Halloween.
Read on...if you dare.
A new attraction to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park’s Haunted Fort is The Battlefield, an interactive paintball shooting gallery where thrill seekers have the opportunity to shoot live zombies.
“It’s not meant to be a scary attraction, but a fun attraction for people,” said Matt Schanandore, event director of the Haunted Fort.
Zombies — two or three at a time — roam a 60-by-30-foot area, enclosed by a chain link fence.
“That way, the zombies don’t get out,” said Schanandore, chuckling.
The shooting gallery was designed to imitate the ones seen at carnivals in the “good ol’ days,” where guns are mounted to the counter to shoot at ducks.
Black lights, strobe lights and music are part of the fun.
The black lights make the paintballs glow, so when zombies get hit, it looks like they’re covered in oozing, glowing paint.
“Our zombies think it’s really cool and have a lot of fun doing it,” said Schanandore, adding that many of the opening weekend shooters said it was the “coolest thing” they’ve ever done.
The Haunted Fort, including The Battlefield, is open from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights throughout October.
The Battlefield costs $10, with a $15 fast pass option where you can skip the line.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.hauntedfort.com. Tickets are also available at the gate.
Mandan Zombie Run
In its second year, the Mandan Zombie Run was the brainchild of Chad Hatzenbuhler, who serves on the Mandan Park Board, and two of his friends.
"We were just sitting around one night and thought, 'How cool would it be to run from zombies?'" Hatzenbuhler said.
The 5k “chase or be chased” run around Prairie West Golf Course is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday, with registration at 5 p.m.
The race features two types of runners: humans and zombies. Participants decide which one they'd like to be.
Human runners wear a survival belt adorned with two flags, similar to those worn during flag football. Their goal is to reach the safe zone with at least one flag, or life, remaining.
Runners who lose both flags are considered "infected," but are encouraged to race to the finish line to claim a possible antidote.
Zombie runners are released one minute into the start of the race, giving human runners the advantage. However, there will be additional zombie volunteers stationed throughout the course, serving as road blocks.
Zombies don't like to see humans make it to the safe zone with flags intact, as their goal is to collect as many flags, or human lives, as possible.
The event is family friendly. However, since zombies are scary, it is recommended that participants be 12 years of age or older. All participants must sign a waiver and parent or guardian consent is required for individuals 17 years of age and younger.
“We’re just really trying to make this a great experience for all the people of Mandan and Bismarck," Hatzenbuhler said.
All registered runners will receive a zombie survival kit, race bib, event T-shirt and a "really cool" medal.
There will be a costume contest, door prizes and music, as well as food available for purchase.
As a park board member, Hatzenbuhler said he’s always looking for ways to raise funds to assist local clubs. The Mandan Zombie Run is one of those ways.
“I’m all about community. A community comes together and helps each other out,” he said. “This race wouldn’t be possible without the support of volunteers and businesses. It’s a complete circle.”
Last year, a portion of the race proceeds benefited Dakota Star Gymnastics. This year, those funds will be dispersed among several youth recreational groups in Mandan, as well as participating nonprofit organizations.
"Nothing can stop the apocalypse from happening," said Hatzenbuhler, noting the event will take place rain, snow or shine.
For more information or to register online, visit www.mandanzombierun.com.
Mandan Zombie Crawl
Nearly a decade and thousands of brews later, organizers of the Mandan Zombie Crawl are aiming to break 500 participants at this year's event, slated for Oct. 21.
"Over the last few years, it's really grown," said Sara Frank, treasurer of the Bisman Bombshellz. "We had 433 zombies last year and, this year, we're expecting to break 500."
Zombies will gather at Vicky's Sports Bar at 4 p.m. for a registration party. There will be drink specials for all ticket holders along the route, which includes stops at Station West Bar & Grill, Strawberry Bar & Restaurant, Old Town Tavern, Last Call Bar and the Silver Dollar. To finish the night, the Rock Point bus will pick up participants on Main Street near the Silver Dollar.
Be sure to dress in your zombie best, as prizes will be awarded to the best dressed male and female. A makeup booth will be set up for zombies running short on time or wanting special treatment.
The event includes a photo booth, games and additional prizes.
"There will be a 'cereal killer contest' at Old Town, where people eat monster cereal mixed with beer," Frank said. "It sounds strange, but people love it."
The first 500 zombies registered will receive a swag bag filled with goodies and coupons, including discounted admission to a Bombshellz Roller Derby bout during the 2017-18 season.
Proceeds will be used to help fund future roller derby events and a portion will be donated to local charities.
"This is, probably, our biggest fundraiser for the BisMan Roller Derby," Frank said. "I just think it’s a really great opportunity to meet the athletes on our team. It’s really grown into such a fun event, and we really look forward to it each year.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.bismanbombshellz.com. Tickets can be purchased the day of the event.