By: Dylan Frazier
17 years ago, Joe Hutton had an idea, he wanted to make a place where screams, scares, and tears ran rampant all while being in a maze. That was when the idea for Purgatory was born. The place where screams are heard and Halloween spirit runs wild, Purgatory has been a mainstay in Findlay for nearly two decades.
“I love Halloween, I’ve loved it since I was a little kid. I used to do the Halloween costume contests in the bars, floats in the parades, I strived to win,” said Hutton. “My brother used to do haunted houses in Fostoria, and I helped him, and I thought ‘I’m going to do this myself’ and we got on it [making Purgatory].”
For someone who may be interested in going to Purgatory but don’t know if it’ll be too scary or not, Hutton says find out for yourself because the idea of being scared changes from person to person.
“A lot of people ask, ‘How scary is it,’ we don’t know you and what your scare tolerance is. ‘What’s the right age for a kid,’ well we have little kids who love it and grown adults who ask to get out,” said Sutton.
With many different haunted mazes or cornfields in the area, Sutton prides himself most on always adding something different to Purgatory. It changes year-to-year and even week-to-week.
“I go to great expense and time to bring out stuff that other haunts don’t have,” said Sutton. “We change stuff and I have animatronic air props back there and a lot of them [other haunted mazes] don’t want to buy them because they’re expensive.”
While Purgatory may only be open for two months out of the year, it’s a nearly five-month project for Hutton. He says that constantly changing stuff to keep it fresh contributes to that greatly.
“One year we had a jungle room that took me two months to build, we quit using it after two years,” said Hutton. “You just gotta turn stuff over and bring new stuff in [to keep it fresh].”
If you’re interested in checking out what Hutton has to offer with Purgatory, they are located at 12630 County Rd. 216 in Findlay. The hours of operation for the maze are 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., but Hutton will stay open as long as people are there waiting to go into Purgatory.
“We stay open until the last person runs through. At midnight, we don’t turn off the light and close the door,” said Hutton. “If someone is going to drive out here, I’m not going to turn them away, you made the trip out here. You caught a train, or your girlfriend took too long eating supper, I’m not going to fault you for your girlfriend or the train, I’ll stay open.”