Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2007 HAuNTcon convention
May 11, 2007
Greetings, Fellow Haunters:
I spent this past Saturday at the Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow & Convention in Dearborn, Michigan and had a very pleasant time. This was my first visit to a HauNTcon show. On that busy day I was surrounded by hundreds of haunters who all seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I.
What HauNTcon does more of than any other haunted gathering is provide haunted attraction tours in the days leading up to the weekend convention. I was there for only a single day, but there were many attendees who had arrived as far back as the preceding Tuesday and had never stopped partying since.
It is no secret that during October many haunt producers and their spouses cannot tear themselves away from their own show to visit other shows. Nor can they justify the time it requires to dress up in wild costume and make-up at their own show - there is always too much to do every night. HauNTcon was deliberately structured to satisfy these producer cravings.
The early morning drive from Cleveland to Dearborn was one of the prettiest I can remember. As I hummed along the Ohio Turnpike, a nearly-full moon poured down its light onto my face from the 10 o’clock low position, scudding in and out of the wispy clouds that raced across a coal-black sky.
I walked up to the ticket booth at 7:45 AM, unaware that it would not officially open until eight, and was waited upon by producer Leonard Pickel’s parents. They warmly took my $30 and gave me my wristband and ID badge.
Attendees had a nice, chilled breakfast to choose from. Lunch and dinner were the responsibility of the attendee.
There were four tracks of classes that day, and I did my best to pop in to as many as I could. (I tried to time each visit to 15 minutes.) Class sizes ranged from about a dozen (in the make-and-take sessions) to nearly a hundred (in the largest lecture room).
I made certain to visit Jeff “Samhain” Glatzer’s make-and-takes on creating monster noses and monster gloves, and snap some pictures of his students in action. Roger “Ichabod” Miller and Beth “Ananda Hexen” Ryan led an afternoon class they called “Acting ‘Outside the Box’” which appeared to draw a nice crowd. I did not get to witness Geoff “Arachnid” Beck’s Sunday talk called “Character Building.” By then, I was home, safe and sound.
At several points on Saturday I ignored the classes for a bit and examined HauNTcon’s surprisingly large vendor room. The number of vendors was less than what I had anticipated, but the large size of many booths was a pleasant surprise.
There was a haunted cake competition in the late afternoon, a first as far as I know. I took photographs of the top contenders, but I do not know which one won.
The final event of my HauNTcon day was the late-afternoon Monster Make-up Wars, produced by Kelly, Neena, Kathy and Barry of Midwest Haunters Convention. Geoff Beck and I leisurely sucked down our MGDs as we watched the five make-up teams go crazy in their attempts to create something horrifically fantastic on their models’ faces.
As soon as the make-up contest ended, I jumped in my car and drove to Rob “Bodybagging” Johnson’s house in the nearby suburb of Garden City. Rob and his main squeeze Atalie threw a big steak cookout for dozens of hungry haunters. When I left near 9 PM to return to Cleveland, the party was still getting bigger.
For me, HauNTcon was a chance to unwind from the craziness that is the haunted attraction industry. Never before had I attended a haunted convention without something I _had_ committed to do. Last Saturday was a day in wonderland - I had no classes to teach, no photos to take, no meetings to attend, no make-up to apply and so forth. I could, and did, goof off all day long.
The Dearborn Hyatt is a large and stately hotel. HauNTcon attendees who stayed at the Hyatt could partake in all the weekend activities without having to leave the building.
Alas, we here in the Great Lakes area don’t know when HauNTcon will visit us again. We can only send our best wishes to the citizens of Houston, Texas, since that will be HauNTcon’s 2008 exhibition location.
I thank Jeanne and Leonard Pickel for putting on such a memorable gathering. I wish them and all of you “good haunting” in 2007.
Very truly yours,
Rex B. Hamilton
13939 Clifton Boulevard
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
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