City Blood’s 2011 MHC Wrap-up!
By Noah Wullkotte
Back in the summer of ’04 a relatively unknown event emerged from the darkness. It was known as the Midwest Haunters Convention. This rather small gathering of ghouls took place inside Cooper Stadium, Columbus’ Minor League Baseball stadium and former home of the Columbus Clippers and Terror Park Haunted Attraction. This small assembly of fear featured a handful of haunt and horror related vendors as well as educational seminars and fun, yet frightful events.
The first MHC would introduce events such as the Monster Makeup Wars which many haunt conventions across the country have adapted since then. Bobbie Weiner of Bloody Mary Makeup would become the event’s title sponsor and has been ever since. She is a world famous makeup artist that has done makeup work for films like Titanic and Pumpkin Head 2 and also supplies Camo Face Paint for soliders and makeup for funeral homes.
The Wolfe Brothers would become the first ever Monster Makeup Wars champions. Other events haunters could enjoy was a behind the scenes tour of the over the top Dead Acres haunted house and the first annual Masquerade Ball sponsored by Hauntworld.com. The Midwest Haunters Convention would cement itself as a gathering that would grow and expand over the years and eventually become the second largest haunt convention behind Transworld.
2005 marked the year that Midwest Haunters Convention started to gain ground and it moved its location to the Radisson North Hotel. No one would have ever guessed how quickly this convention would expand, but it did and haunters were ready for it. 2005 included a tour of Scareparts, one of the haunt industry’s largest prop companies as well as a tour of Costume Specialists and City Blood’s 2004 Haunt of The Year, The House of Nightmares. MHC was bigger and badder than every with parties, contests, vendors and anything that could put a smile on a haunter’s face.
2006 would be yet another big year for MHC with a return to Dead Acres. But instead of a behind the scenes tour, it was a complete, fully staffed haunted house with some intense in your face actors. While there were a lot of changes made for MHC, one of the biggest was yet to come. 2007 would introduce, the now popular, pre-convention bus tours. Haunt owners and actors had the chance to see some incredible haunts instead of having to bust their butts during the haunt season. It was a chance for those who shed blood, sweat and tears, to sit back, relax and enjoy the scares. Ghostly Manor, Haunted Hydro and Horror Hotel (a horror museum) were part of the first ever pre-convention bus tour.
MHC 2008 made the most dramatic changes since their move in 2005. This rapidly growing convention had finally moved to a real convention center, The Greater Columbus Convention Center. The number of vendors had also grown in size from 60+ to well over 80. This was achieved with help from the Midwest Fantasy show which ran concurrent with MHC. Everything haunters have come to love about MHC had returned such as the parties, education and haunt tours. 2008’s MHC would be making a stop in Southwest Ohio to tour great haunts like Junction Nightmare, Riverside Jaycees Haunted House, St. Rita’s Haunted House and The Dent Schoolhouse. Many of these haunts were less than 30 minutes from my home in Cincinnati, OH.
Haunters were even treated to a tour of the new Scare Factory facility and The House of Nightmares in its new downtown location. 2009 and 2010, Midwest Haunters Convention once again took place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and grew bigger than ever with new vendors, new tours, events and tons of education. Midwest Haunters Convention was quickly becoming the funnest event in the haunt industry that welcomed everyone from enthusiasts to haunt professionals.
Nearly 8 years have passed since the original MHC invaded Cooper Stadium. Now, this humble event with a few hundered attendees has grown leaps and bounds with thousands of haunt owners, actors, workers and enthusiasts congregating in one place to celebrate Halloween and Haunted Attractions. This year’s MHC promised to be one of the greatest with its largest pre-convention bus tour ever featuring 20 haunts all the way from Middletown, OH to Kokomo, IN with a few surprises thrown in. While the setting of MHC no longer takes place inside a stadium or hotel, the mood is the same. It’s Halloween time in June and the creatures of the night have invaded the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Our MHC journey started with a quick drive up to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to pick our ticket up for The TerrorFest and possibly stay for the rest of the evening activities. The night’s festivities included a free tour of The TerrorFest Haunted House with shuttle service and a party featuring Scary-Oke, food and fun. It took us no time to make it to Columbus and pick up our ticket (8:00-8:30), convention tote bags and goodies. After we got a quick bite to eat, we were off to The TerrorFest. The TerrorFest (formerly The House of Nightmares) is one of the most elaborate haunts in Ohio with state of the art props, amazing attention to detail and some off the wall characters. Because there was timed ticketing, the crowds weren’t large and were spread out each hour.
The haunt itself felt incomplete and there were obviously some things that needed to be fixed before they opened for the haunt season. It just wasn’t as impressive as it is during Halloween time, but this is understandable given the time of the year it opened. After about 20 minutes of touring the haunt, I was ready to make the trip back home to take care of some business. I wouldn’t be taking the bus back to the hotel for Scary-Oke, but I would be back the next day for the tradeshow and the one and only Monster Makeup Wars.
Click Here to read Damien Reaper’s Scary-Oke experience.
Our drive back to Columbus, OH was pleasant and once again we were there in no time. 2010, MHC had a smaller than usual tradeshow in terms of vendors compared to 2009 and 2008, but this year there were as many vendor booths as the eye could see and everything seemed to be more organized. Everything from realistic gory props to professional photography was on display with many of the items being cash and carry. It was a haunter’s paradise with thick fog and costumed characters running amuck.
As I walked the showroom floor, I realized how much the industry has grown in terms of acceptance. Haunts are finally seen as a viable form of entertainment that’s not taboo and haunt actors are viewed more as entertainers than people dressed up in gory or over the top costumes.
One of my favorite additions to the tradeshow this year is the mini hearse, motorcycle and hot rod showcase. These truly are pieces of art on wheels and just about everyone had to take a second look at the vehicles that sparkled in the light. Other vendors worth mentioning are Laura Dark Photography featuring model and actress Jackie Steinhart. The photos taken of this model are breath taking to say the least.
Laura Dark, owner of Laura Dark Photography has a deep connection to Friday’s haunt tour of The TerrorFest since she used to be one of the actresses at the haunt when it was The House of Nightmares in Mt. Vernon, OH. Jackie Steinhart also has a connection with the producers of MHC since she currently works at Kelly and Neena Collins’ haunt, The Scare-A-Torium and used to work at their haunt Terror Park.
Darklight and Mini Spot light also returned to the tradeshow floor showing off their well built led spot lights used at haunts all around the world. There were a variety of vendors at Midwest Haunters Convention such as Nox Arcana and Midnight Syndicate who create beautifully haunting music that can be heard at many of your favorite haunted attractions. The tradeshow floor was bursting at the seems with high tech mayhem and costumes, masks and makeup. If you didn’t see something you liked, you weren’t looking hard enough.
What’s better than makeup? Monster Makeup is of course. This year’s Monster Makeup Wars pits contestants against each other in a battle to see who can create the best monster with the supplied materials. Each participant and their makeup artist/artists has 30 minutes to create the most off the wall character possible with q tips, white makeup, a clown wig and other materials that can be found in the Bloody Mary/White Castle bag of supplies.
This year’s teams are:
The Asylum House – Greenwood, IN
Monster Bash – Batavia, OH
yUK… – Cincinnati, OH
Woods of Terror – Greensboro, OH
Monster Bones – Columbus, OH
It was a heated battle, but when it was all said and done The Asylum House was victorious with their half clown, half Uncle Fester creation. Most of the contestants used their full clown wig, but The Asylum house used bits and pieces of it to apply to their model’s head. Their model also played the character of a demented ghoul with eyes painted on his eyelids which helped their team greatly.
The time was 5 pm and the tradeshow would soon be coming to an end. Later that night there would be the annual Masquerade Ball featuring various contests (scariest character, Ms. Midwest, Body Painting), food, drinks and a party like no other with monsters and ghouls dancing the night away. Before the annual ball, there would even be a sit down dinner with Philip Morris, the man behind the legendary Big Foot costume.
The annual Masquerade Ball is a time for haunters to relax and enjoy the company of those who love to scare and just have a good time. Hundreds of people can be seen in homemade over the top costumes with some that are humorous and others downright scary. It’s always entertaining seeing how creative people can get. New this year is a mini walk through haunted house you enter before stepping foot onto the ballroom floor.
Many interesting characters could be seen roaming the ballroom like a little person dressed as a windup doll, an evil ice cream man, sexy ladies in bodypaint, The Munsters, mad scientists, hot zombies, demented clowns and just about any crazy creature you can think of. The Ms. Scary Midwest contest returned with “The Tooth Fairy” becoming victorious while the Scariest Character contest had “Other Dad” coming out on top. The ladies of MHC even got to show of their bodypaint creations in the annual Body Art Fashion Show. Overall it was a memorable and haunting night with music, dancing and pure terror.
Click Here to read Damien Reaper’s Masquerade Ball experience.
The 2011 installment of the Midwest Haunters Convention was one of the best with memories I’ll cherish for a lifetime. If you’ve never been to MHC, you’re truly missing out. It’s fun, scary and one hell of a ride. See you next year!