Good news

Gnomes, sphinx, and dinos, oh my! Galey Farms opens up about their 22 years of Halloween festivities

‘This wasn’t built in a day,’ says owner Robert Galey

By Emily Fagan
October 29, 2021
Good news

Gnomes, sphinx, and dinos, oh my! Galey Farms opens up about their 22 years of Halloween festivities

‘This wasn’t built in a day,’ says owner Robert Galey

By Emily Fagan
Oct 29, 2021
Emily Fagan / Capital Daily
Good news

Gnomes, sphinx, and dinos, oh my! Galey Farms opens up about their 22 years of Halloween festivities

‘This wasn’t built in a day,’ says owner Robert Galey

By Emily Fagan
October 29, 2021
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Gnomes, sphinx, and dinos, oh my! Galey Farms opens up about their 22 years of Halloween festivities
Emily Fagan / Capital Daily

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It came to him, Robert Galey said, in dreams.

The 5,000 square foot haunted house. A miniature old western town with spooky scenes at every storefront, equipped with immersive sounds and smells. The great pyramids of Giza and the sphinx towering over a cornfield. Dinosaurs frozen in time next to a crashing waterfall. And around it all, a train.

This is the Galey Farms that Galey and his family have created over the past two decades—part amusement park, part scare house, and somehow still a working farm at its core.

“This wasn't built in a day,” Galey said. “This is the 22nd year and it's been slowly growing.”

Halloween has always been his favourite time of the year—and now, with the farm welcoming sold-out crowds each October, it’s among Galey’s busiest. 

Galey’s parents once hosted bonfires for the whole neighbourhood on their farm, he says. Now, while many of the attractions still light up the night, they’ve become a mainstay for locals and tourists looking to celebrate the season. 

The farm boasts two main big-ticket attractions: Festival Of Fear, which allows visitors to explore over a mile of the iconic outdoor entertainment, and the Carnevil haunted house. The massive warehouse of horror boasts three “chicken exits” for those unable to stick it out to the end—which “gets well used,” according to Galey.

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For most of the year, Galey said, the focus of the farm’s 15 properties is on its roots of growing fresh produce for Vancouver Island residents. His parents were always passionate about growing potatoes—but after he graduated high school, they expanded operations to allow Galey to pursue his own drive to farm berries. 

“Now, we’re by far the biggest strawberry grower on the island with over half a million plants,” he said. 

“People come here and they realize how hard we actually work to get food on your table that's locally sourced here on Vancouver Island.”

To him, the Halloween festivities are a community-wide celebration of another successful growing season.

The corn maze was the first aspect of this now iconic local display to be built in 1999. As interest grew, Galey introduced more elements—erecting the sphinx, pyramids, and waterfall in 2004, followed by the train in 2006. From there, he quickly expanded to create DinoLand, Pirate’s Island, a petting zoo, the Adam’s Graveyard, and recently welcomed Howard the giant Gnome to the fields in 2019.

Although Galey won’t specify exactly how many people it takes to run the whole affair, it takes more than two dozen crew members and technical specialists to design and run the Halloween attractions. Like a Vancouver Island Walt Disney, Galey depends on them to carry out his vision down to every smell, sound, and animatronic motion guests experience on the farm.

There’s not much room left to grow, Galey said. He expects the next big changes will come when his two children, now young adults, express their vision for the farm. Like him, they grew up surrounded by the legacy of Galey Farms— quadding during the summer in the empty corn maze and building forts in the water tower of the haunted miniature town.

Part of the haunted miniature village at Galey Farms. Photo: Emily Fagan / Capital Daily

“My kids, by the time they were one or two years old, they were in Carnevil with me,” Galey said. 

After a few weeks of working alongside their dad in the haunted house, Galey’s kids were able to confidently say good night to the monsters as they left, unafraid.

Now in his 20s, his son still works alongside him on the farm. With Halloween festivities in full swing, the two are busy each weekend putting out fires and overseeing the farm’s many unique artificial biomes. 

After Halloween weekend, when the season comes to an end, many of the attractions will be converted into storage for farm equipment. But the fulfillment that Galey gets from watching guests experience the farm for the first time will be more than enough to last him through the next few rainy, cold months.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I love making those families and kids smile.”

It’s impossible for Galey to pick a favorite part of the farm. It’s been part of his family for generations, and he’s proud of the role he has played in its legacy on Vancouver Island.

“Everything you look at comes from my heart,” said Galey. “It's my love for this place that makes it go, and you know, I will be here for the rest of my life.”

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