Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2011 Midwest Haunters Convention
June 19, 2011
Greetings, Fellow Haunters:
I spent the weekend before last in Columbus, Ohio being a part of the 2011 Midwest Haunters Convention. I was in the city from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon.
My main purpose at MHC was to be a volunteer. One of my two big jobs was to be the “bag man” at the registration room on Friday afternoon. Here attendees received all the junk they had paid for in advance - name badges, show floor registration wristbands, tickets to the Friday haunt bus tour, admission to the big costume ball on Saturday night, two days worth of classes/seminars and so forth.
This year the registration room opened for business at 2 PM, not 4 as it had in years past. The place was simply crazy in recent years as the attendance at MHC has steadily swelled. There were times where it was crazy again this year. There was a person at the door limiting the number of people who could enter our banquet/meeting room. Otherwise, we would have been swamped. We didn’t close until 7 PM.
In 2011 more than 1300 people registered in advance. There were three lines of registrants, sorted alphabetically by last name. And there was a fourth line for those who waited too long and had to register at the door. As the official bag man, I handed out the goodie bags full of promotional literature, snacks and convention schedules. I regret to tell you that we ran out of bags late in the day. There were so many people who registered online at the last minute that the 800 bags that were prepared were simply not enough to go around.
Since I stood behind the registration desk for the entire 5-hour period, I saw plenty of goofs. By far the biggest problem I witnessed was that people who had paid for admission to the Saturday night costume ball did not receive the necessary wristband in their pre-made registration packet. I have no idea where the fault lies in this mixup. But in every case, the registration people made things right.
The best suggestion I can make is that when you register on-line for anything that you print out a receipt and take it with you to the event. Nearly everyone who approached MHC’s four registration desks that afternoon had their Internet receipts in hand. You can’t argue about paper receipts and we certainly didn’t. We satisfied everyone.
My other job was to run the front door of the convention hall on Saturday morning. I am the Official Greeter at MHC and it’s one of the best jobs in the haunt industry.
When I arrived at the door just before 8 AM (it opened at 9) the place was already bustling with activity. There were four ladies working the registration booths and another small group of volunteers selling MHC t-shirts off to their left.
When I yanked open the door to the convention hall at the appointed hour I spoke these words: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Midwest Haunters Convention!”
Here are some of the fun things I did on my own at MHC:
Snapped around 900 photographs. You’ll see a collection of them at my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...5&l=7e58fb1599.
Floated around the Monster Make-up Wars on Saturday afternoon.
Was never far from an adult beverage.
Engaged in non-stop, continuous, unending yakking about haunts with any and everybody.
Enjoyed a Saturday-night dinner at a Greek restaurant in the midst of a tremendous rain storm.
Admired a collection of haunted hotrods on the convention floor.
Saw a lot of fun video clips that were shot throughout the show, and inside the hotel elevators.
In my opinion, the four producers (Kathy, Neena, Barry and Kelly) hit a home run by adding the Friday-night karaoke party to the schedule. By the time it started at 10 PM, many people had made their way back to the hotel (Hyatt) and to its 2nd floor where the large bar and outdoor patios are located. Many of them, like myself, had toured the haunted house. Others had gone out to dinner at nearby eating spots. A few more had simply chilled in their rooms for a few hours
The party was held in a nice 2nd-floor ballroom with white tablecloths. I think I saw at least 200 folks there when I popped in for about 10 minutes right around 11 PM. I took a few shots of the serving trays where you could pile up a single plate for ten bucks and that’s it. Nearly every haunter I know eats some sort of meal late at night during October production performances. I’ve gulped down plenty of Sunday breakfasts in the wee hours of late Saturday nights.
I got incredibly lucky, from a photographer’s point of view, during my brief visit to the karaoke party. A fellow volunteer named Keith (from Columbus) got up on the stage and did a dead-on vocal impression of an 80s dance song called “I’m Too Sexy” by an artist named “Right Said Fred.” The place suddenly got much louder due to the shouting and screaming from and by various attendees. People rushed the stage. They were shaking everything that Mother Nature had given them. Guys started taking off their clothes. Women, surprisingly, kept their clothes on. The crowd went nuts. And then, less than three minutes later, the moment had passed.
In brief conversations with the four producers, I learned that MHC continues to grow with every passing year. Kelly Collins told me that several activities were 50 per cent larger than last year. For example, there were a thousand tickets sold on Friday evening for the haunted house bus tour. Barry Schieferstein sold all but two of the booth spaces on the convention floor. Kathy Schieferstein and I could only stare at the never-ending stream of people who entered the registration ballroom. Neena Collins oversaw quite possibly the biggest line-up of haunted classes at any convention now operating.
Ohio and Michigan haunters, like myself, have had to pick and choose whether they wanted to attend MHC or the Great Lakes Fright Fest. In 2011 and 2010, both conventions were held on the same weekend due to scheduling conflicts. But in 2012 and 2013 the two shows will take place on differing weekends. I have already made my reservation for the 2012 Great Lakes Fright Fest. The campground (Totem Pole Park) is nearly sold out and the convention isn’t until next June.
All of us associated with Midwest Haunters Convention thank you for your attendance and wish you “good haunting” this coming October.
Very truly yours,
Rex B. Hamilton
13939 Clifton Boulevard
Lakewood, OH 44107-1462
“A haunted house is only as good as its actors.”
Wayne Sealy, Mystery Manor, Omaha, NE