The 2013 Midwest Haunters Convention also known as MHC, was the BIGGEST AND BEST convention the MHC board has ever produced! MHC is held annually in Columbus, Ohio in June. MHC serves the primary audience of Haunted Attraction Producers, Halloween Enthusiasts, Actors, Artists, and Home Haunters. Haunt tours, vendor booths, educational seminars, hands-on workshops, celebrities, parties, socials, costume contests, and a body painting show are all part of this event! Held June 7-9, this was MHC’s 10th annual convention and it WAS AWESOME! The educational seminars and workshops were well organized and very useful to a wide array of guests. The show floor was packed with more vendors and buyers than in the previous 9 years.
Before the convention was held over the weekend of June 7-9, MHC held the annual Pre-Show Bus Tour. The tour consisted of two days (June 5th and 6th) touring 8 of the best haunted attractions throughout Michigan and Ohio. Most haunted attraction producers and actors are working during October, therefore, the MHC bus tour provides them the opportunity to see what other haunts are doing to entertain people. Each year, the bus tour travels to and tours different attractions in the Midwest. This year, the Pre-Show Bus Tour visited the following attractions:
- Necropolis, Indianapolis, In
- Twisted Darkness, Kokomo, In
- Fear Itself, Mishawaka, In
- Niles Screampark, Niles, Mi
- The Haunt, Grand Rapids, Mi
- Phobia House, Kalamazoo, Mi
- Terror Town, Toledo, Oh
- Scare Fair, Lima, Oh
**A bonus was added in to stop at Gerard Industries in Kalamazoo that featured a special surprise!
If you missed the Pre-Show Bus Tour, sign up next year! It’s the ultimate all-inclusive vacation for Haunters!
In addition to the two-day bus tour, MHC offered a Friday day and night bus tour (open to any and all haunters.) The Friday Day Tour took guests to visit two truly haunted buildings. Guests toured the Ohio State Reformatory and the old Bissman Building in Mansfield, Ohio. This was be the second time an entire day was devoted to searching for ghostly inhabitants at haunted destinations.
To kick off the Friday night tours, MHC had an interactive haunt set up at the convention filled with props, pneumatics, and live actors. This haunt gave guests a chance to see some of the items in action that were for sale on the show floor. Sometimes items just need that “seen in use” experience to really get the feel for how an item will function in a real world haunt.
After the interactive haunt walk-through, buses departed the convention center and drove to Unit 70 Studios for an open house tour of their new facility. Unit 70 is one of the elite prop makers for the haunt industry as well as television shows and movie sets. They offered a complete tour of their entire workshop and warehouse, offered food and beer, and a Live Band performed. It was the ultimate tour for a haunter!
The final tour of Friday night was a full actor tour of the hardcore, extreme, Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres located in Pataskala, Ohio. This attraction isn’t your average haunt. The tour included both indoor and outdoor scenes, set to loud heavy metal music. The majority of the sets were gory, graphic, and intense. Unlike most haunts, the actors were allowed to grab and curse at patrons, which led to some of the actors getting out of control. Members in our group were grabbed and pushed by actors harder than we liked. The women in our group had their hair repeatedly pulled and one was tripped and pushed to the ground by an actor. Expect to leave this haunt with bruises. The Haunted Hoochie is not recommended for children under the age of 17.
After the Friday night tours, Haunters were welcomed at the host hotel (Hyatt Regency Columbus) with the 6th annual “Scary-Oke” contest. Contestants of Scary-Oke dress in elaborate costumes and sing karaoke to their favorite tunes. The best costume/singing combination wins! Even though it is said to be a “contest” Scary-Oke is more of a social gathering where friends can all mingle and have some fun!
The 60,000 square foot trade show floor was 30% larger this year, packed with over a hundred vendors, which provided regional businesses and residents the opportunity to shop for professional quality Halloween related products. Everything from props to pnematics to lighting was available over the weekend. The show floor even featured a section of custom haunted hot rods!
Held on the trade show floor, a crowd-favorite event was the Bloody Mary Monster Makeup Wars. With only thirty minutes and a bag of surprise Bloody Mary makeup materials, makeup artists showcased their talent in unbelievable speeds. Artists form 5 teams of three (two apply makeup, one is the model) and battle on stage to complete a monster makeup in front of a live audience. The teams’ models are then judged on completion, detail, and speed by haunt industry professionals to be crowned as the winner. The 2013 first place team was ‘Team Rigor Mortis,’ Marla Van Lanen, Alex Dunning, and Brianna Klein from Green Bay WI. The second place team was ‘Team Dark,’ Deanna Roberts, Jason Ervin, and Jackie Steinert.
Throughout the duration of the convention, MHC also includes educational seminars, hands-on workshops, and networking activities for haunted attraction professionals as well as beginners just starting out in the haunt industry. This year’s seminars featured some of the top experts in the industry. Over thirty-five hours of classes were divided among five categories; Acting, Makeup, Haunt Design/Props, Haunt Business, and Home Haunting. These seminars teach and help individuals understand the ins-and-outs of the various techniques used in the haunt industry.
Saturday night was the 2013 Monster Masquerade Costume Ball! Included with your ticket was delicious hors d’oeuvres, a live DJ, dancing, stage entertainment, contests for prizes, and a place to network and party with lots of Halloween fans in costume. This was “THE” social event to attend of the year! The costume ball brought the haunt industry’s best actors and costumes together into one place for an amazing contest!
The Body Art Fashion Show was the kick-off to the Monster Masquerade Ball! The BAFS is an invitational event for select Body Painting Artists to showcase their makeup artistry talents in spectacular fashion. The 2013 Body Art Fashion Show invited the following artists: Nick Wolfe/Evil Twin FX, Dean Martin/Evil Fire Lizard, Matthew Seel /GoreAtorium/Death Clock Studios, Lacey Bailey, Anne Collins & Aryn Fox/EverAfter Faces, Stacia Gorsuch/Painted Magpie, Pashur/Canvas Alive, Nix Herrera/SyFy FaceOff (Season 2), Dutch Bihary/Contours FX/ShowOffs Body Art, Donna Nowak/ShowOffs Body Art, Matt Phoenix, Margie McGuire/Face Painters Guild of Central Ohio, Jonathen Kinney/Columbus Airbrush and Ian Von Cromer/European Body Art (SyFy Face Off-Season 2).
The two contests featured at the Masquerade Costume Ball were the Scariest Character Contest and the Miss Scary Midwest Pageant. Judges roamed through the crowd handing out invitations for characters to compete in the “Scariest Character Contest”. Ten contestants competed on stage for cash and prizes. Haunted attraction actors from around the country competed for this coveted award. Hollywood type special effects and movie quality character costumes provided fantastic photo opportunities. The 2013 Scariest Character winner was ‘Dr. Dad’ by Steve Kristof representing the Realm of Terror Horror Experience from Round Lake Beach, Illinois.
This year’s Miss Scary Midwest contest was different as the previous winners from the past 9 years were invited back to compete for the 10th Anniversary Scariest Woman in the Midwest! This year’s winning costume was ‘Canabel’ worn by Brook and Regina Englehart, representing Svenpuss from Rockford, Illinois. The duo previously took the crown in 2009. Second place was Julie Langenderfer ‘Mother Goose’ who won in 2010.
On Sunday, the show had a lot to offer including the show floor, hands-on workshops, and educational seminars.
All of these events were jam packed into one awesome weekend at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. MHC had everything a haunter could possibly wish for at a tradeshow. The convention expands bigger and better every year. MHC has even bigger plans to amp up the show for 2014. The dates have been set for June 6-8, 2014! So make sure you mark your calendar; it’s a show you won’t want to miss!
For more info check out the official MHC website at: MidwestHauntersConvention.com
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Article by: @DanHower
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