Here's a lovely article featuring this weekends extraordinary events!!

A haunting in Columbus
By Dyani Robarge
Published June 1, 2011

It’s a cloudless, radiant day in the heart of downtown. Dark, ghostly figures begin to congregate along the sidewalks as a zombie; his flesh rotted and peeling from the bone, makes his way to the door. Seemingly oblivious to the blood dripping from his gaping wounds, a smiling group of abominations shake hands and proceed inside.

Welcome to the Midwest Haunters Convention. Here, the country’s most macabre gather to celebrate and learn the art of spook. It’s a quirky brew of the most bizarre, intriguing and downright bone-chilling features of the Halloween season. While the convention specializes in informational workshops for those in the haunted attraction industry nationwide, their audience ranges from trained acting/makeup professionals to curious haunt enthusiasts and fans. It will take place June 3-5 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center downtown.

The convention begins with several full and half-day education workshops that include makeup, acting and entrepreneurial classes given by experienced professionals from around the country. The weekend itself is brimming with various workshops related to the Halloween industry, from advanced airbrushing techniques to haunted house design. Although the sessions come with a fee, the extensive trade show is completely free and open to the public. Over 75 vendors will be displaying their top-quality Halloween merchandise on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This convention is the last chance for attraction operators to meet, take classes and stock up on necessary supplies to begin preparing for the season of haunting.

One event not to be missed is the infamous Monster Make-Up Wars contest, which takes place on the tradeshow stage at 4:30 on Saturday. Five teams of artists are given a mysterious box of makeup with which they have 30 minutes to create a monster on stage. The audience witnesses firsthand the intricate, step-by-step process of creating a unique and terrifying creation.

Although the Make-Up Wars is a highlight of the convention’s festivities, the Masquerade Party is truly the weekend’s greatest spectacle. Because most workers in the profession are so busy with their own events during the Halloween season, they often don’t have a chance to enjoy their own spooky costume creations. The Masquerade Party, similar to a Hollywood Gala, features complex and colossal costumes by some of the best in the industry. Halloween professional or not, this exciting event is sure to amaze.

The first event taking place that evening is the Body Art Fashion Show, a glow-in-the-dark promenade of elaborately-decorated models showing off unbelievable hair and makeup designs. After the Masquerade Party officially kicks off, two contests are held to show off the skills of the convention’s most ardent Halloween enthusiasts. The Miss Scary Midwest Contest aims to find the woman with the most frightening appearance and best character of the ball. Later during the masquerade, contestants chosen by judges will compete for the title of Scariest Character. Winners are judged on stage performance, creative costume and makeup.

For many, such as scare-enthusiast Neena Collins, a passion for the grotesque that began as a hobby eventually blossomed into an exciting career. She recalls, “I used to work in a bank. I was a librarian by day and a monster by night. It allows you to express your alter ego.”

Neena now runs a successful Ohio haunted attraction herself as well as a full-services makeup artist company and is a co-producer of the Midwest Haunters Convention.
She says that what draws people to the event is seeing people in costumes that reflect their unlimited creative ideas. In contrast to the frightening characters they display, the people in costume all come with a similar goal -- to have an entertaining weekend socializing and learning about their passion for the scary and the strange.
“While props and special effects are important in haunted houses, what truly makes an attraction stand out is the colorful personalities of people themselves,” Neena said.