Creepy dolls are back at Olmsted Co. museum (just don't turn your back on them)

People can vote for which of the 9 contenders they think is the scariest.

Nine antique dolls
The nine contenders in the 2021 version of the History Center of Olmsted County's "Creepy Doll Contest."
Photos by Nate DeBoer, courtesy History Center of Olmsted County

It's almost Halloween — and the creepy dolls are back in Rochester.

The History Center of Olmsted County is running another edition of its now-annual Creepy Doll Contest.

This year's edition features nine more antique dolls from the museum's collection of about 100 dolls — with names like Lizzie Borden and Miss Abyss. They're in various states of repair, adding to their charm or creepy quality, depending on how you see them.

“We select nine dolls from the collection and give them fun names and put them out on social media and ask for people to vote on which they think is the creepiest,” said Wayne Gannaway, executive director of the history center.

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Voting continues through Friday on the History Center's Facebook and Instagram pages. On Saturday, the museum will hold a cocktail party where the winning doll will be crowned. The event will feature a jazz band, cocktails inspired by each of the dolls, and the dolls themselves on display.

Gannaway said that while the contest provides some Halloween entertainment, it's also a way to help the community see and appreciate local history.

"The dolls were at one time someone’s prized possession," Gannaway said. "I think that’s something really special about this contest. It brings that to light. So on the one hand, there’s this sometimes unnerving sense that the dolls look creepy, but on the other hand, I think people intuitively understand, 'Wow, that doll was loved at one time.' "

This is the third edition of the Creepy Doll Contest; it was first held in 2019.