Scary stories to tell in Driftless winners announced

Our readers were invited to get into the spirit of Halloween and submit their original scary stories to our recent “Scary Stories to Tell in the Driftless” writing contest. Submissions could be made in four categories: adult fiction or non-fiction, and youth (up to 17 years) fiction or non-fiction.
Naomi Pedlar, a middle school student from Decorah, took first place with her entry “Henry, The Unfortunate Third Child” in the Youth Fiction category.
Briana Burke’s “Sleep Paralysis” placed first in the Adult Fiction category. Aaron Trezona’s “Our Little Girl” placed first in the Adult Non-Fiction category.

Meet our “spooky” judges
The scary story entries were judged by local paranormal experts Becky Bicknese and Dave Smutzler and Kristin Torresdal and prizes were awarded for first, second and third place in each category. The judges only received the stories and categories,
no information about the perpetrators was shared.

Becky Bicknese is the principal investigator for Bluff Country Paranormal Investigators (BCPI) located in Spring Valley, Minnesota. The team was created in 2014 and currently has seven investigators. In August, the BCPI investigated the Cresco Theater and Opera. Last October, the team traveled to Iowa again to visit the Villisca Ax Murder House for a ghost hunting adventure.
Decorah Police Chief Dave Smutzler is a founding member of Police Investigating Ghosts (PIGs). The six-person team investigated schools, theaters, businesses, hospitals and poor homes. Notably, last summer the team investigated one of Iowa’s most haunted places: Edinburgh Manor in Monticello.

Additionally, Travel Channel’s Paranormal Emergency aired a segment in 2019 involving a story from Investigator Smutzler.
Smutzler said of our story submissions: “I was blown away by the writing I saw. Very creative, very spooky, and excellent descriptive writing. He praised the young writers and said, “I would like to know the ages of some of these writers. The level of writing in the youth division was so creative and descriptive.
Kristin Torrsdahl of Ossian is the director of the Decorah Public Library. Torrsdahl said, “The creativity and writing skills shown here are very impressive. Some of the images and ideas shown will stay with me for a while! Torrsdahl echoed Smutzler’s impression on young writers and said their stories would stay with her for a while. “When I try to fall asleep, have to go out in the dark or hear a strange noise in the woods… You have rightfully scared a 38 year old man. She praised the use of humor in stories and said it was a good tool to make horror writing more realistic and, in a way, more spooky. She reiterated that the applications from the young people had blown her away and added: “I hope that entering this competition will encourage them to keep writing because there is real talent here! “
Scary Stories submissions will be featured in the Driftless Journal throughout October.


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