Arts & Culture

A year of planning, a dungeon, 120 skulls: Eagle woman hosts ‘epic’ Halloween party

Sherri Randall knows how to throw a party — and she knows it takes a village, and time.

More than 120 people showed up throughout the night in costume at the Eagle woman’s Semi-famous Halloween Party last weekend to celebrate the spooky season. They huddled around heaters Saturday night, explored the grounds of the “Medieval castle,” entered through the spider tunnel and dodged flying monkey skeletons to get to the dance floor. People relaxed in the creepy chapel and photo booth, and boogied into the wee hours with the live band.

It takes plenty of work — like a year or so of planning — and a vast amount of help to create a party like this, said Randall, who holds her huge Halloween hoedown every five years or so at her sprawling barn and corral.

“It takes frickin’ ever to get this party together,” Randall said. She created a party binder filled with sketches, ideas and lists of materials. More than a dozen friends worked over the better part of a year to build the setting on Randall’s property.

“I get obsessed. The binder was filled with ideas of what I could do, if I could have it all,” she said. “Sure enough, my friends and I did it. It exceeded expectations.”

Her friends made the “brick” walls that covered her barn, carved creepy trees for the haunted forest, and built the stained-glass windows, fireplace, dance floor and more. They hung black draping, and zip-tied lights and scattered cobwebs. Randall made the torches for the dungeon and made 120 skulls using a mold and melted plastic milk jugs.

Everyone who helped brought their certain skill set. “I had so many talented people, it was really amazing,” Randall said.

Volunteer Cindy Sawyers helps build wall of skulls using milk jugs that were melted over a mold and painted. Darin Oswald

And it was worth it for the people involved and the guests.

Boise’s Cindy Sawyer was one of the core crew that spent more than a month on the final push to get things done. The experience and the party were “epic,” she said.

“The last day when it all came together, it was astonishing,” Sawyer said. “We were like, wow, we built this. Having been part of building it all, when I left the party I felt like crying. It was sad to know it all was going to be torn down.”

Sherri Randall’s home in Boise before being moved in 1991. (courtesy Sherri Randall) Provided by Sherri Randall

Moving a house

Randall has celebrated Halloween in this house since she acquired it in 1991. She was going through a divorce and looking to relocate to a property that would accommodate her, her 1-year-old son and two horses. She found property in Eagle and thought it would be cool — and more affordable — to move an old house to that piece of land.

Randall, a certified public accountant, called the area’s only house-moving company at the time to ask how much it would cost, and discovered that it had just received four houses along Jefferson Street where St. Luke’s Medical Arts Building stands today that were up for grabs. The houses, like Randall’s, were built circa 1900.

Sherri Randall’s home was split in two pieces to be transported from Boise to Eagle in 1991. Provided by Sherri Randall

“It was a bit of luck,” she said. “I paid $1 for the house, $1,000 to clear the property and $30,000 for the grand move.”

She also moved a carriage house from the same property for her horse barn.

You don’t just pick up a house and move it, of course. The company cut it in half, separating the first and second stories, so there was no need to make arrangements to move around street lights. Then the movers reassembled the house on the property. It would need new electric lines, plumbing, etc.

The move happened at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, 1991.

“So when the neighbors woke up on Halloween, there was this ‘haunted house’ next door,” Randall said. “Our neighbors were great. One of them ran an electrical cord over so we could have power until we got it set up.”

At the time, it really did look like a haunted house. The exterior boards were weather-worn, the windows were dark and the house would settle with loud noises, and doors opening and closing.

“At least I think the house was settling,” Randall said.

If it was ghosts, she said, they’re long gone — or just happy to hang out and wait for the big party.

After a year of planning a preparation, Sherri Randall’s barn transforms into a castle for her medieval themed Halloween party. Darin Oswald

Halloween is Randall’s jam

“We’ve always had a Halloween party,” Randall said, but in the first years after her move, they were a different animal — very kid-centric, with apple bobbing in the living room.

“The floor was pretty much trashed so I didn’t care if water got all over it,” she said.

Then in 2011, Randall did her first blowout and dubbed it the Semi-famous Halloween Party, turning her storage barn into party central. She did another uber-party five years later because “that’s how long it takes to recover,” she said, laughing.

This year’s party accelerated the schedule a little to three years, because her parents are getting older and Randall wanted to make sure they could still kick up their heels.

“They love to dance,” she said. “I wanted to make sure they were able to really enjoy it.”

Mom and Dad joined a few hundred others who partied for hours the Saturday before Halloween. The next big party is scheduled for 2024, Randall said.

All of the massive party decorations and scenery were dismantled the next day because the horses needed to come home. Life gets back to normal fairly quickly.

“It was amazing,” Randall said. “I woke up Sunday morning and there was a whole crew out there working.”

Dana Oland is an experienced reporter covering a wide variety of topics in the Treasure Valley. A former member of Actors’ Equity, she covers arts, culture, food, wine, development and growth. She oversees the Statesman’s reader-driven Curious Idaho initiative and the production of Treasure magazine. If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.