Canadian Haunted Attractions Conference 2012
On April 14th, 2012, we attended the Canadian Haunted Attractions Conference and had an awesome experience! What is it about conferences where like-minded individuals get together and share that just creates this inviting atmosphere? I'm not a social person, preferring to create and life in solitude so it always amazes me that I feel comfortable at these events that normally, being around so many people, would have my hackles up. But as at FaeryCon, Philly's Doll and Teddy Convention and FaeryFest, it's like finding a family you LIKE to spend more time with! Weird!
So we arrived Saturday around 10:45, the drive from Stratford only taking 1 1/2 hours. The hotel, the Crowne Plaza, was non-descript but pleasant (although overly warm). Right away we met Matthew Flagler, president of the Conference, as he was standing by the registration desk. It was an extremely appreciated courtesy that I was allowed to put out some flyers for the Online Hallowe'en Artists' Studio Trick or Treat along with some bat information and the super cool "Year of the Bat" stickers I got from the United Nations.
And then we entered the show room. Okay, it WAS small with about 20 vendors but it took us 4 hours to get around! I wish I'd been bolder and asked to take more photos because some folks were incredible! Like Calvin Cox and his Ghost Museum, a small "museum" displaying a variety of creepy cool items. Calvin offered for sale (among other things) Teddy Bears made of dryer lint! As a collector (of bears, not lint) I had to say the originality stole my attention and I picked out my favorite. He's there leaning against ratty, sort of Burton-esque, don't you think?
Ratty? Yes, there was a home haunter, Christina Boudreau, selling off some props who had this rat that, when fed batteries, glows! Of course he's now mine... He was the only rat at the show, I think.
If you didn't feel welcome, you didn't meet John Migliore. An expert zombie, having appeared in many films, John is also one of the nicest zombies you'll ever be lucky enough to meet. I invited him home but he said small pets would have to be on the menu... needless to say I had to retract my invitation.
Yes, Mom was having a great time!
We sampled chocolates from the Gift Crypt, heard a lot about the intricacies of setting up good sound in a multi-roomed haunt from Scott of Prelude to a Nightmare and I bought a lot of teeth from Keith, the Pumpkin Teeth guy. I can hardly wait the SIX MONTHS to carve my pumpkins this year!!
Look at those incredible pumpkins! What great ideas!
From P.E.I. I got to chat about removing prosthetics with Fox Henderson of The Monkey Rodeo. Wow, his fingers were so cool, I just had to have them so I pulled out a razor-blade and lopped two off! Well, no, I bought two of his awesome latex fingers modeled after his and his girlfriend's hands.
Monkey Rodeo also had these wonderful postcards and prosthetics for sale, and a book of photographs of their work which I, sadly, had to leave behind.
Look at those fingers!!!! I hope they'll think about taking part in my Hallowe'en tour! Please?
We took a quick snack break outside the hall and Matthew was there and shared how welcoming Hamilton was to the Conference, the tourism/business center going out of their way to entice the Conference to be held in the city. He also brought us over to see the body art contest that was in progress. No photos were allowed but I can say that the work that goes into this art form is a test of endurance and the ability to let go... after all, at the end of the day, the models all step into the shower and the work is washed down the drain!
Sadly, we couldn't take part in any of the seminars and educational workshops, which I've heard were really good... next year I'll be there for the whole weekend!
Back into the showroom, we came upon Stacy Saman, the Gothic Gourds lady herself! With a huge booth, Stacy had all kinds of goodies to share, from t-shirts to soaps to cards to jewelry and she had quite a few bat related items.
As you can see, there were times when it was quite busy!
What came home with me? There was a batty hair clip that is just the thing to wear pre-Hallowe'en and a larger Day of the Dead clip that will get a lot of use!
Aren't they clever?!
Here's Stacy with Julie of the Twilight Zoo. We met both Stacy and Julie at last year's Zoo in Elora, ON, and we're keeping our fingers and toes crossed that there will be a Zoo event this year.
The Canadian Haunters Association had a booth and Chris Ainsworth was happy to tell us about the Association and ScareFest and then turned us over to Hecter Turner who shared how he constructed his awesome Lovecraftian tentacle-erupting tombstone!!! (Hector is also responsible for the awesome "Haunted Canada" calendars.)
Layers of styrofoam, pool noodles, papier maché tentacles and Cheerios!!! Plus a great deal of talent and imagination!! This work won 2nd place in a contest where only $20 could be spent to create your masterpiece.
All three gravestones were amazing, but this was my favorite. The dead child in fairy costume is also very cool!
These are way above my simple stones but I'm inspired!
We next met Drew Badger, the "Rabid Badger" Haunt Consultant, who seemed eager to help out my tour by suggesting that a Podcast interview would help our attendance. I know almost nothing about Podcasts (yeah, try to listen to one when you're on dial-up!) but his Big Scary Show sounds like an incredible opportunity! And like Matthew said, while the Conference is still in its infancy, it's the connections and the contacts that people are making that creates this community of Haunters.
Also we very much enjoyed our conversation with Wayne Mallows. While his book series, beginning with "Whitechapel Road: a Vampyre Tale" sounded interesting, it was his stories of his haunted Bed and Breakfast in Niagara, ON, that really had our attention! At least three ghosts inhabit his home, and not only are they benevolent (mostly) he can communicate with them. No, I don't think we'll be staying overnight!
Last but certainly not least, we admired the burned arm created at the Dotsy's booth, where a lot of make-up and supplies were offered. "Flesh Latex", toilet paper, paint and vaseline were used to turn ordinary flesh into a painfully realistic wound... and the best part is that the flesh latex just peels off!
Here's a picture of all our loot! Note the cool orange cloth tote bags everyone received, with all sorts of treats inside including Hallowe'en candy!
Okay, next year's dates are already set: April 12-14, 2013 in Hamilton, Ontario! We'll be there, I hope you can too!
By the way, if you're coming from the west, you can bypass Kitchener and Cambridge by following the route we took, the orange line on the map (which you can click on for a larger view).
And until then? There's a ScareFest on July 7th, 2012, in Thornhill, Ontario!
(Click on the poster for a larger, printable version.)
Maybe Hallowe'en can be an all year long celebration!
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created by Karen Waschinski. Photos by Karen Waschinski
Questions? Comments? Please e-mail me at woosel[at]scratchingatthewindow.com
~~Dà Fhaol Mharbh: A Vampyre's Faerytale by Karen Waschinski (with Debra Yee)~~