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Alright, so there are some woods (a few acres) by my house and I recentley got permission to build a haunt in it by the owner. I'm not going to charge a mandatory entree fee but I am going to put some kind of bucket outside of the haunt for donations. Nothing is mandatory, it's just in case they feel like leaving a donation, which would be great considering the time and money I am planning on putting into it. Although I'm doing it because I love halloween and I am an special effects makeup artist so i love all of this stuff. Would I need any kind of permit, license etc. to do this? I can't find info on this anywhere! Thanks!
 

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What Hump?
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Although licensing, from the business side of the house, is not really their arena, it's always a good idea to get the local fire marshal involved.
The fire marshal will have worked with other attractions and events in the area and will be able to tell you what other people you need to contact.

Contacting the fire marshal is a scary step, but it is such a weight off of your shoulders to know that you are in compliance with safety codes. Since you are outdoors, most jurisdictions have less strenuous requirements for open-air attractions. But, nobody on this or any other forum will be able to give you the official answer you need unless that person is the fire marshal for your jurisdiction.

Make sure there is some sort of liability insurance in place as well. Again, a scary step, but soooooo relieving to know that you have it in place.
 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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Once money gets involved, the rules on insurance change...even if it's just donations..you should talk with your insurance guy. Same goes for the fire marshall...they may look at it differently if money is involved.
 

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As Scatterbrains alluded to, INSURANCE is a MUST.You need to protect yourself and the property owner.Might be something the property owner can look into on their own homeowners policy. And if people are going to be parking on and walking across your property, you need to do the same. As far as if you need a permit, you would need to look into any local city township or county ordinances. Laws on this type of thing are so different across the country that you would be crazy to accept an answer given to you on a message board as absolute.
 

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There are 50 states, thousands of counties and 100,000+ cities. And there are so many different rules and regulations that you couldn't keep up on the yearly changes alone, much less the original codes. Like others have said, the only ones who will be able to answer your questions are the local experts.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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Cutting it kind of close to get something set up for this season and still have a few days of actual haunt - I honestly don't see how you can get this done in time.

You absolutely need to look into permits from your county for temporary events (just like a fall festival or traveling carnival) which might come with inspections for minimum safety codes. And absolutely will need liability insurance coverage in case someone gets hurt on the property. Without that, you're leaving yourself open to a huge mess (and the property owner as well as they gave permission) so just make sure you do what you can to cover yourself.
 

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A very minor seeming thing can generate mountainous headaches and expense. A woman walking a woodsie trail pushed her big toe into a tree root and suffered a very painful and long -term injury.
Next season the signs said:"No Open-Toed Footwear."
When in the woods always be looking up for dead limbs that could fall quickly in any kind of wind and make your route around the area or trim the tree.
Learn to identify noxious weeds like poison ivy, poison sumac, nettles.....
 

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black light queen
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its too bad that common sense has lost its way in the US legal system ... you can sue for just about anything ...

although they won't, the system should be changed so that the loser in court has to pay for all the fees ... including both lawyers and their associated costs ... i think this would dramatically reduce the frivolous lawsuits

amk
 

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Alright, so there are some woods (a few acres) by my house and I recentley got permission to build a haunt in it by the owner. I'm not going to charge a mandatory entree fee but I am going to put some kind of bucket outside of the haunt for donations. Nothing is mandatory, it's just in case they feel like leaving a donation, which would be great considering the time and money I am planning on putting into it. Although I'm doing it because I love halloween and I am an special effects makeup artist so i love all of this stuff. Would I need any kind of permit, license etc. to do this? I can't find info on this anywhere! Thanks!
As a lot of people have already stated, this varies wildly by location, but it is a common question that deserves a detailed response.

First, talk to your insurance (or the owner should talk to THEIRS) whether you're taking money in or not. Event insurance may be required, and is a good cheap way to add a little extra coverage to your haunt, money or no. Your jumping spider makes a kid jump, falling down your porch stairs and breaking a leg or two, I guarantee you're going to see medical bills even if his cape that is way too long is what tripped him.

Now that you've CYOA on that front, it's time to go talk to your CITY OFFICIALS. Most cities have some kind of regulation on this, yes. At what point a party or haunt stops being a simple neighborhood gathering and becomes a public event varies by all kinds of requirements. Money is one, number of people is another. My city has a 200 person limit. If you expect more, you need the permit. Sure, you might fly under the radar if no one complains, but you're in technical violation even if you don't take money. There's stories about places getting shut down for this every year. This is a city by city ordnance, however, and you best check with yours. If you live in an unincorporated area, you need to check with the county. If you DO need a permit, I guarantee they'll want to see proof of your liability insurance.

Now you have a permit, your 3rd stop is going to be with the local fire marshall that will be doing the inspections. Get everything squared away with him BEFORE you start building. How wide does the path need to be, what limits are there, etc. It's easier to do it right the first time than to go back and bring it to code.
 
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