Uptown Fright Fest to be hosted in downtown Niles next month

NILES — An event that promises to be a spooky good time is bringing Halloween to Niles early this year.

The first-ever Uptown Fright Fest will be hosted from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19 at The Rage patio and United Federal Credit Union parking lot, located at the corner of Front and Sycamore streets in Niles. The event will feature pumpkin and masquerade mask decorating, carnival games and prizes, and a spooky alleyway walkthrough. Carnival tickets will be priced at 50 cents each or 13 tickets for $5.

Organizer Chance Smith said the event was inspired by a similar event called Niles Fright Fest, which was hosted in 2016. Smith said that event was a large success, and he knew he wanted to bring back a Halloween-themed celebration for the city of Niles.

“I think this town really loves Halloween. It’s always a huge draw when people hear about Halloween events for kids,” he said.

Local group Uptown Notion, started by Smith and his family, will be hosting the event. Smith said the group was founded in order to organize family-friendly festivals and events for the Niles community. In addition to the Fright Fest next month, the group plans to host events centered around other holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, and during the summer.

“It started with my family, but we found like-minded people who wanted the same thing, so this is a group that can really grow,” Smith said. “The main goal is to bring some events back that people might remember from 10, 15 years ago and bring some new ones, like this Halloween festival. We want to revive these and events and grow them over the next five to 10 years.”

As Uptown Notion grows, Smith said it plans to work with other downtown organizations and businesses, believing that both collaboration and fun festivals are necessary to create a vibrant downtown.

“I think Niles has a great foundation — we have a beautiful downtown and Riverfront Park,” Smith said. “Niles has everything. I think it just needs some really awesome, family-friendly events that can bring all kinds of people, even from St. Joe or Mishawaka, downtown. I just want it to be very lively downtown. I think we can do that if we can get these events going and get them to grow bigger and bigger.”

Money raised from the Uptown Fright Fest will go to support future events hosted by Uptown Notion. Smith said he is excited to see the community attend the September event and would encourage families from across Michiana to see the events downtown Niles has to offer.

“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said. “Spooky fun.”

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