The Halloween & Hauntfest Convention
Normally scheduled in late August, the Halloween & Hauntfest show is appropriately billed as “a gateway event to the Halloween season.” To those of us who kick off our official celebrations with the start of Dinosaur Dracula’s Halloween Countdown on September 1, the timing hits that perfect sweet spot. The anticipation, that period of time I like to call “the run-up to the countdown”, starts to build throughout August, so that by the time this event rolls around Kassi and the kids and I are practically bursting with Halloween excitement.
The Hauntfest is a haunter’s convention, intended for professionals as well as amateur Halloween enthusiasts. From Friday to Sunday the show features speakers, workshops, and a fair number of exhibitors selling or featuring their product and advertising local haunts. I always get a kick out of the workshops, because there are so many interesting and cool classes to attend, on everything from Dollar Store decorating to advanced lighting and motorized prop effects, to molding your own custom masks with latex, etc. The classes are $20 a pop, or you can pay $90 for a weekend-all access ticket that gets you in to everything — which in my opinion is a fantastic deal. It would be fairly easy to make a weekend of it. Most of this stuff is intended for the pros or at least serious home haunters, but what Halloween fan wouldn’t want to learn how to make their own motorized animatronic monsters? Or fake blood?
And for the more sociable convention goers, there is usually an after-hours party or other themed event Friday and Saturday nights.
It’s important to remember that although the Hauntfest show is open to the general public, it’s really geared towards those in the business. This is not a fan convention, like Texas Frightmare Weekend. The exhibitor floorspace is much more limited, and although the booths are generally visually appealing, maybe about half specialize in direct sales to businesses. There are no celebs signing autographs. No cosplay. Though you will find plenty of costumed creeps repping the local haunts.
Also, this is supposed to be a family-friendly event — and it is, I guess. To a point.
I’m just saying. I hope your kids like clowns.
Cause brother — they had the clowns. Walking through the door was like stepping into Bedlam. Just complete, meltdown-inducing, thumb-sucking, animatronic carnival mayhem.
Clowns in your face. Dismembered bodies. A stack of skulls piled up in feces.
It was madness.
For some reason they decided to put the absolute sickest prop maker of them all, Demented Design Studios, right at the entrance. Now granted, these guys are fantastic at what they do. The quality of their pieces are outstanding. And I get that the organizers probably appreciated their shock value — but when you’re walking in with your four year old in tow, springing all the hideous shit the show has to offer right in your face like one of those snake in a can gags from the seventies is probably not the most family-friendly way to open the show.
About ten seconds in, I could tell the little one was starting to lose it. I tried to reassure him while checking out stuff myself and quickly taking pictures for the blog. I also wondered if my daughter was going to freak out, as clowns used to send her into a panic. But she pushed through.
That little jester guy in particular gave him the heebie-jeebies. (Do people still say that?) I think the main thing about it was its kid-like height. The eyes were right on level with his, which really scared him.
Later I’d find a way to cheer him up and get him excited again (read on), and there was nothing else quite as terrifying as those clowns, thankfully.