View Full Version : The Big News: 2008 Isabella Award Winners Announced

The Ghoulish Gallery
10-31-2008, 09:14 AM
the Isabella Awards recognize individuals within the haunted attraction industry who are facilitating positive change through selflessness, positive attitude and random acts of kindness to others. In a unique twist not often seen in an awards program, the Isabella Awards cannot be won through nomination. Instead, an anonymous panel of three judges monitors the haunt industry blogs and forums, taking note of individuals whose words and actions cause them to unknowingly become goodwill ambassadors for the haunted attraction industry. So without further ado, the winners of the 2006 Isabella Awards are:

ED ROBERTS -- Ed uses his haunt, the Nightmare Factory, as a means to raise funds to benefit children at the Oregon School for the Deaf. Over the past twenty years, these fund have helped support so many projects and worthy causes that it is almost unfathomable… but here are just a few examples: new playgrounds for the school, new kitchens in the girls and boys dormitories, art supplies for the high school department, new computers for the school and dorms, new books for the school library, furniture for the school’s residential halls, clothing for needy student, renovations to the school’s student union, accelerated reading program books and tests, equipment for the middle school classrooms, new dishwashers and dryer for residential halls, sponsored dormitory after school programs and VOC training classes, sent student to academic competitions… the list really does go on an on. Ed is a wonderful example of how one person can use the art of haunting to touch the lives of so many in a positive way.

GWENDOLYN RODRIGUEZ -- Gwen uses her Sacramento, CA based haunt, The Scream Extreme, as a means to raise funds for her Shadowbox Theatre Company, a non-profit organization which helps autistic children through performance art based outreach programs and field trips. We’ve all read Gwen’s postings on the different forums and if you don’t know who she is just look for the most positive/up beat post and 9 out of 10 times that’s going to be Gwen. This amazing woman has an optimistic outlook on life that is 100% contagious, and perhaps more importantly, she is always ready to greet you with a big hug and a warm smile. Aside from her charitable work with autistic children, which in and of itself is worthy of an Isabella Award, Gwen is also a wonderful example of how, in an industry that is all too often overly competitive, you can accomplish things faster, quicker and more effectively with an a measure of heartfelt kindness and a positive attitude.

GREAT LAKES FRIGHTFEST -- Great Lakes Frightfest sponsors an annual canned food drive called Haunters for Hunger. In 2008, Haunters for Hunger received donations totaling approximately 2010 cans of food for the needy AND over 400 pounds of dog food and 600 cans of pet food for their new pet food drive. While there is no way to really gauge how many hungry mouths or under nourished animals this program must feed, the numbers are easily in the thousands. This long-running program is also amazing in another respect; it works because of the combined efforts of hundreds of haunters from around the nation. Haunters for Hunger is a fantastic reminder of how much can be accomplished when haunters put aside their personal differences and work together in an effort to bring about a common goal.

NORM LANIER/HAUNTED PORTRAITS -- Norm is the owner and artist over at Haunted Portraits. Like most artists, he is a fairly quite kind of guy who enjoys the creative outlet found in his day-to-day business. However, unknown to most, for the past several years, while Norm has been quietly going about his day-to-day business, he has also been making charitable contributions of free changing portraits to qualified 501C3 non-profit organizations. As we all know, charity haunts often work with a very limited budgets. Through his generosity, Norm is not only helping these haunts save money, he is also helping them improve the overall production value of their haunts by gifting them with a product that they may otherwise not be able to afford. I don’t know of many haunt vendors that have a program like this but I think it a wonderful idea and, as a changing portrait company owner myself, I’m somewhat ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t think of it first. Way to go Norm!

KEVIN ALVEY -- Anyone who has ever dealt with Gore Galore knows that Kevin’s business is amazingly customer service oriented. In fact, his level of customer service (both before and after a sale) is one of the reasons Gore Galore won the International Association of Haunted Attractions “2007 Vendor Recognition Award.” Like most of us, Kevin has seen some of the complaints that haunters have made about vendors on the public forums but unlike most of us, Kevin decided to actually do something about it… so he started the Halloween and Haunt Vendors Association (HHVA). So, what exactly is the Halloween and Haunt Vendor Association? It is a network of Halloween and haunt-related manufacturers and importers brought together to support the Halloween industry and to provide timely information and resources to its members. By networking, they provide each member with the combined talent and experience of all their members. This allows them, as a group, to be stronger than any individual member and allows them to have a bigger voice in our chosen Industry. Wisely, from the onset, Kevin established a “no industry politics” and “no trade show owners” policy which set the stage for vendors to communicate openly and honestly about important issues without the fear of retaliation from higher ups in the industry. Now, only six month old, the Halloween and Haunt Vendor Association has definitely had a positive effect on this industry. Their membership has been working closely with Transworld on the new and improved Haunt and Attraction Show… so much so that the Halloween and Haunt Vendor Association was invited to have representatives on Transworld’s 2009 Haunt and Attractions Show advisory board. In fact, HHVA is even one of the official sponsors of the show! While there is still much to be accomplished, the Halloween and Haunt Vendor Association is an idea that is long overdue. Congratulations to not only Kevin but to all the HHVA members for helping make such a significant and ongoing positive impact on the haunt industry.

TRANSWORLD EXHIBITS – Most of you already know that Transworld is putting on a new and improved Haunt and Attraction Show in St. Louis in 2009, but how many of you understand the investment Transworld is making in our industry? While haunting will no doubt be the core of this show, what most people don’t know is that Transworld is hard at work marketing this show to not only haunters, but also to groups that don’t even know they’re haunters yet. While that may sound a little odd, what it means is that Transworld understands that there are a lot of business out there that could be making a lot of extra income on a seasonal haunted attraction but they don’t have a clue how to get started. I’m talking business like amusement parks, zoos, museums, family fun centers, farms, bowling centers, theatrical companies… the list goes on and on. As the International Association of Haunted Attractions Trade Show Liaison, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jen @ Transworld on nearly a daily basis – seriously, we talk almost daily - and let me tell you that if you knew how much they were spending to make all this a reality for our industry, you would be in shock. They are really making a major investment to expand our industry (which benefits everyone) and all the while they are also, with IAHA’s help, making a conscientious effort to make sure this new show represents the entire haunt industry. In addition to all this, Transworld has also improved their communication by leaps and bounds. As one of those people who had been burned by Transworld in the past, I was cautiously optimistic but let me just report here and now that Transworld has been making a very sincere effort to repair bridges and has opened up their checkbook to help grow and expand our industry so that we all can get a more proportionate piece of the 5.5 billion dollar Halloween pie. The bottom line is that Transworld has genuinely turned a new leaf and is now working VERY closely with all the haunt industry publications and professional associations, including International Association of Haunted Attractions (IAHA), Halloween and Haunt Vendors Association (HHVA), 13th Hour Magazine, Haunted Attraction Magazine, and Hauntworld Magazine. In fact, all these groups are official sponsors of the 2009 Haunt and Attraction Show. Seriously, when is the last time you saw all these groups working hand in hand on a common goal? Kudos to Transworld for investing so much in our industry, for expanding our market, for improving their communication, and for having the insight to use this new and improved Haunt and Attraction Show as a tool to help unite this industry.

Well, thanks for letting me share all this and don’t forget to congratulate the winners. And of course...

Happy Halloween,
Tim Turner, CEO/Lead Artist
Ghoulish Gallery, Inc.