First Es­ther Fest set for Oct. 25 to 29

Hon­our­ing the leg­end of Es­ther Cox and the Great Amherst Mys­tery

The Amherst News - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - By Dar­rell Cole Amherst News dar­rell.cole@amher­st­ Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

A fes­ti­val, cel­e­brat­ing Es­ther Cox and the Great Amherst Mys­tery, is go­ing ahead this fall, al­beit a lit­tle smaller than ex­pected.

Var­i­ous groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions have come to­gether to put to­gether the town’s first fes­ti­val com­mem­o­rat­ing the Cox leg­end. Events will be held through­out the com­mu­nity be­gin­ning Oct. 24 and run­ning through Oct. 29 with Halloween fun, a pod­cast, read­ings a Haunted Scarefest and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The town is still con­sid­er­ing ex­actly how they want to move for­ward with the project, but a group of us, with the sup­port of the town’s re­cre­ation depart­ment, fig­ured we’d get started and do a small ver­sion of Es­ther Fest this year. Then we’ll see what it can pos­si­ble grow into mov­ing for­ward,” Char­lie Rhin­dress said.

In 1878, Es­ther Cox, a young woman in Amherst, be­came the cen­tre of a bizarre se­ries of events that be­came known as the Great Amherst Mys­tery. For close to a year she was tor­mented by ghosts and demons who threw ob­jects

into the air, started fires and phys­i­cally at­tacked her.

The events were sup­pos­edly wit­nessed by hun­dreds of town

res­i­dents and the story has sub­se­quently been told in plays, books and TV shows and is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the best doc­u­mented case of poltergeist ac­tiv­ity on record.

Maclean’s mag­a­zine called it Canada’s most fa­mous ghost story as well as a clas­sic poltergeist case.

Rhin­dress was hired by the town last year to in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tial for an Es­ther Cox fes­ti­val.

John Warner of the Amherst Ar­ti­sans Gallery has sup­ported the project from the be­gin­ning. He said the gallery’s co-founders, in­clud­ing him­self, Gil Col­li­cott and Ted Evans, sup­ported the pro­mo­tion of the vis­ual arts, but also lo­cal mu­sic, the­atre and his­tory.

“The Es­ther Cox story is part of Amherst and should be told,” Warner said. “It helps tie to­gether some of the his­tory of our begin­nings. Es­ther Fest is a fan­tas­tic start and it needs to be de­vel­oped and en­cour­aged.”

Artist Chris Brown has cre­ated sev­eral images in­spired by the Great Amherst Mys­tery and these are be­ing used to pro­mote the fes­ti­val. One has been made into a T-shirt that’s for sale at Mar­itime Mo­saic.

Kelly Brine, who works at the Amherst Cen­tre mall, said Es­ther Cox has been in­cor­po­rated into the sec­ond Haunted Maze, while there will also be a haunted hayride be­hind the mall to a firepit where Rhin­dress will tell some fa­mous Amherst ghost sto­ries.

Other events in­clude a read­ing by Lau­rie Glenn Nor­ris from Haunted Girl: Es­ther Cox and the Great Amherst Mys­tery on Tues­day, Oct. 24 at the Four Fa­thers Memo­rial Li­brary and a staged read­ing of the Char­lie Rhin­dress play Guilty: The Story of the Great Amehrst Mys­tery at the Com­mu­nity Credit Union Busi­ness In­no­va­tion Cen­tre on Oct. 25.

The very pop­u­lar Night Time Pod­cast will re­lease its lat­est episode, all about the Great Amherst Mys­tery, dur­ing the fes­ti­val while there will be movies, ac­tiv­i­ties for kids, a dance and more.

“We gath­ered to­gether all the scary events that were al­ready hap­pen­ing in Amherst this year, added some Es­ther-re­lated stuff and cre­ated a fes­ti­val,” Rhin­dress said. “Amherst has no short­age of spe­cial events and we’re re­ally hop­ing peo­ple see it as the place to be to get your fright on this Halloween.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, check out Es­ther Fest on Face­book or go to­ther­fest .

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