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Haunted house venue expands to host concerts

Profile image for Lucinda Breeding
Lucinda Breeding

The director of a brand new outdoor music venue had his fingers crossed that hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg would make an appearance at a local festival on Saturday, Dec. 2

"Yeah. He's in Italy," said Marc East, the senior director of the Parker's Plantation and Events Center. "But he will make an appearance on the two 16-foot by 10-foot screens on either side of the stage."

Snoop Dogg is the highest-profile act lined up for the first local music festival the Parker's Plantation and Events Center has on the books since broadening its business. The Chill-N-Denton Music Festival has three local headliners in a day of local music: Lovesick Mary, Remain and Puddin Taine. The headlining act, Anchored, has local roots, too. Lead singer Brandan Narrell is an alumnus of University of North Texas.  

Anchored has a recent song, "Throwin' Down" which features the prolific and perpetually-high hip-hop star. 

"It's been floating around that it's a possibility that Snoop Dogg would make an appearance, and it was true," East said. "His management put us on hold, though, to make sure he wasn't too busy. The idea was that if he was available, he'd come and perform with the band. He'll make an appearance, but just on video."

Chill-N-Denton is meant to be an annual event, East said. He hopes it will mark a new musical tradition and an introduction to the venue.

"We decided to schedule it at this time of year because it's supposed to be cooler. It can be a little chilly."

The Parker's Plantation has spent the last seven years as a haunted house attraction for about six weeks a year. A small staff and scores of volunteers (up to 80 who perform and help run the event) turn the 15-acre property into the stage for a macabre complex called Parker's Plantation. During October, thrill seekers can walk through the buildings where the fictional family ran a funeral home and black market business trafficking in body parts. The acreage sits just 2 miles west of Interstate 35, on the edge of Denton city limits.  

"It turns out the property requires a lot of upkeep and mortgages year round," East said. "The haunted house has been really successful, so we put our heads together and came up with this idea. Denton has such a big music scene, and with the stuff happening with venues closing down, we figured we have an ability to open up our area for the music scene."

Parker's Plantation and Event Center is fairly no-frills, with two large, lighted parking areas for 650 vehicles. The stage can be expanded or broken down to accommodate big and small acts. It has covered areas, and East said the venue is bringing in portable bathrooms.

"These are the kinds of portable bathrooms that have running water," he said. "So we hope we're going to have some nicer amenities." 

The venue also has an audio and lighting board that will handle 100,000 watts of power. That's more than enough to serve a crowd high-quality live music, East said. The stage and venue should be able to entertain a maximum of 5,000 people. 

There are five vendor spaces onsite, East said, and a rental space for smaller parties. 

The key players in the haunted house have experience and expertise is production, East said.

Chill-N-Denton is a family-friendly event (though parents should know that the Anchored song featuring Snoop Dogg includes some vulgar language), East said. 

"This event, we'll throw it all at them," he said. "We want people to see what we're able to offer... This event is all different genres of music. We want to appeal to a lot of people."

The venue will be available for local festivals and organizations, and East said film crews have been shooting movies at the plantation, using the creepy haunted house buildings for horror projects. The space is set up to meet the needs of bands and artists, though the venue will accommodate acts who have their own sound systems. 

"Our sound engineer will always be involved, but we know that touring groups especially like to use their own sound companies and crews," East said. 

East said festival attendees should bring blankets and chairs, as there is no seating. 

Chill-N-Denton Music Festival is just the beginning, East said. 

"We have already scheduled four events for next year," he said. "We're ready to go."

If You Go  

What: Chill-N-Denton Music Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2

Where: The Parker's Plantation & Event Center, 8550 W. University Dr. 

How muchTickets to Chill-N-Denton Music Festival range from $15 to $35. The event is BYOB, and coolers are allowed for a $10 fee. Food trucks and vendors will sell concessions, too. Security will search use all bags and coolers, and will scan attendees for firearms. Only active law enforcement officials with credentials will be permitted to carry weapons on the property.