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John Frazer scarecrow

He only spent 11 months as innkeeper of the Rising Sun Tavern in Downtown Fredericksburg in the 1790s, but John Frazer’s presence in this historic building continues to be a subject of animated discussion more than two centuries later.

Frazer was the first innkeeper at the tavern, a structure originally built as a residence by George Washington’s brother, but used as a tavern from 1792 until 1827.

Frazer took ill and died in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the house, and many who have worked there over the years will tell you he never left.

From unplugging lights to tugging on gowns to stacking hats knocked off their hooks, stories of the lighthearted mischief of Frazer’s ghost have accumulated over the years.


Rising Sun Tavern will celebrate these hauntings on Nov. 5, from 7 – 9 p.m., during John Frazer Night.

Tavern Manager Katie King said she’s excited to bring this event back after a few years’ hiatus, and that they’ve saved some new and refreshed stories of the innkeeper’s shenanigans for the occasion.

Guests will enjoy a spirited tour of the tavern, with wenches in period dress sharing their own encounters with Frazer’s ghost, along with gingerbread and spiced apple cider on the front porch.

Space is limited, and reservations are required. Click here for information on buying tickets. Admission is $8 before the 5th, $10 at the door. Children ages 6 to 18 are $5, and children under 6 are free. Call 540-371-1494 for more information.

To get you into the spirit of the event, don’t miss out on the Scarecrows are Coming! contest on the streets of Downtown Fredericksburg.

At the Visitor Center at 706 Caroline St., you’ll find a scarecrow depicting Frazer. This scarecrow was designed by local artist Leslie Brier, and includes many features to accentuate the ghostliness of this character and the mystery surrounding the many tales of his hauntings over the years.

While you’re in the Visitor Center, pick up a ballot that includes a map of all of the downtown scarecrows (or download it here). Make a day of trying to find all of them, then vote for your favorite in four different categories. The contest runs through Oct. 31.

After that, the Frazer scarecrow will be brought down to Rising Sun Tavern to reunite with the tavern’s scarecrow, a wench who could possibly be Frazer’s wife, Elizabeth. The two will be on display for John Frazer Night.

Looking for other ways to feel the Halloween spirit? Here are some other happenings around the region, with something to appeal to you, whether you think Halloween is for enjoying a good scare, or just for family-friendly fun.


Haunted Trail at Wilderness Presidential Resort – Catch the final weekend of this annual haunted trail in Spotsylvania County Oct. 28-29. Find details on buying tickets here. This is not recommended for children under age 10.

Wicked Woods Haunted Forest – Now in its 10th year, this is for those who really like a good scare. With movie-quality special effects and three different spooky attractions on-site, this Spotsylvania attraction is not recommended for children under 12. Runs every weekend in October. Find information on tickets here.

Fredericksburg Hauntings Tours – The focus with these is much more on history than on super-scary experiences. Tour historic Downtown Fredericksburg with a well-informed guide who can let you in on the stories that have led some to call Fredericksburg America’s most haunted city. Click here for tour information and to book tickets.


Halloween 5k and Monster Mile – Head to Stafford County’s new Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center in the Embrey Mill Development on Oct. 29 for these two races, starting at 7:45 a.m. The mile is for agest 12 and under, 5k is for all ages. Come see this new sports facility in this growing community and take a nice fall run.

Treats on the Streets – Bring the kids to Riverfront Park in Downtown Fredericksburg Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. this free event will include games, prizes and safety tips for trick-or-treating. You’ll also get a map of participating downtown businesses you can visit for special treats while supplies last.