I was there the first year! it was fun...still is.
I’ve seen numerous posts here describing the variety of trade shows and conventions for haunters. I try not to comment and let the readers offer their opinions. I can’t speak for the other shows, but I can tell you the reasons why the Midwest Haunters Convention started 10 years ago.
Our history actually began about 16 years ago when I started attending the Transworld Halloween and Party show in Chicago. Every year I took a car full of actors and scene builders with me to the show. We would spread out and walk the aisles looking for new props and ideas for the upcoming haunt season. The TW show was huge and it took a couple days to see everything. Back then the show was combined with the party stores and the attendance was 2 – 3 times what it is now.
It was a several years later when TW management (not the current management team) decided to restrict the show attendance to haunt owners who could show proof they had purchased at least $5000 worth of merchandise the previous year. They were trying to prevent the actors, home haunters, makeup artists and non-profit haunts from walking the show floor and taking brochures and freebies from exhibitors. They weren’t spending much money at the show and they were taking time away from exhibitors who wanted to talk with serious buyers. It was some of the party show vendors who were putting pressure on TW to make these changes.
Move ahead to 2003 and a small haunter’s conference in Ohio had just wrapped up and announced they were discontinuing their show. They had about 150 people attend their show; including about a dozen exhibitors. We had been instructors at their show and I’d been teaching at TW for a couple years too. My wife Neena and I started thinking about what was going on with TW (restricting attendance to haunters) and the closing of the Ohio Haunters Conference. We struck up a conversation with a couple of our actors/scene builder friends; Barry & Kathy Schieferstein (they were also home haunters) and mentioned that we were thinking about starting our own haunters show to fill the gap now occurring. The four of us decided to form a partnership and start planning a convention.
After a couple months of planning and searching for a location; we decided to host the Midwest Haunters Convention. A gathering for haunt owners, actors, scene builders, makeup artists and home haunters. We wrote a 10 year plan with a goal of someday hosting 1000 participants from Ohio and surrounding states. We would hold the show in hotels throughout Ohio during the month of June or July. Kind of a last minute opportunity to make purchases for the upcoming season and inspire actors with economical training and social events. We wanted to give them a place to shop for anything they needed; props, costumes, makeup, supplies, etc. To keep the show financially available to these groups; we decided to keep our profit margin low, work out of our homes and use volunteers for our show staffing. We wanted our exhibitors to be successful too so we set our booth prices low ($500 for a 10 x 10 booth) and we offered them free assistance unloading their trucks (no expensive drayage fees).
We achieved 1000 attendees during the fourth year of our show. We had outgrown all the local hotels and needed to move to the Columbus Convention Center where we could continue to grow our show. Our management team is made up of haunt owners, actors, makeup artists and home haunters. We know what it is like to work in this industry. We feel this experience helps us put on a convention that is useful and friendly to the haunter community.
We’re celebrating our 10th year for the Midwest Haunters Convention this June in Columbus, Ohio. We’re hosting a two day haunt bus tour to 8 haunts with over 20 total attractions, a Friday night bus tour to Unit 70 studios and Haunted Hoochie followed up with a Scary-Oke show at the Hyatt. Then a two day trade show (admission is only $5 for the weekend) along with seminars and workshops with your choice of up to 5 seminars for only $85. Our Masquerade party had about 1500 people last year where we host a Body Art Fashion Show, Ms Midwest Scary Pageant and a Scariest Character Contest. This will be our 10th year for our Monster Makeup Wars competition (by the way, beginners Nick and Brian Wolfe won the contest the first year).
Sorry this is so long, but I felt it was important to explain why we are here and what lead to our beginning. We are a show for Haunters! We truly love the haunted attraction industry and want to do everything we can to help it grow and be successful. You'll see the four of us walking the show floor and hosting our numerous social events. We consider our show to be Frightfully Unconventional.
Thank you for your time and I hope you will consider joining us at our show June 7, 8 & 9.
President Mid-Ohio Productions
The Midwest Haunters Convention
I was there the first year! it was fun...still is.
Kelly that is why people love your show and it is the only show I won't miss every year. It was great to get some history and if you remember lunch after TW I said to you that your prices may be too cheep. $5 for the show floor is nothing. Thanks for all you and your family of haunters do for us attendees, it does not go un noticed. I hope this year is the best ever.
I cannot compare and contrast your Convention to others, because I attended MHC for the first time last year (and it was my first and only haunt convention to date), but I can say that you seem to have succeeded in the goals you just outlined. It was fantastic.
I don't think anyone questions why there is an MHC, I think the question is why so many shows period that this industry can't support especially from the vendor side. I'm trying to understand it myself... it has nothing to do with you guys! I would agree you have a long running great standing reputation and it seems to build and build.
But why so many shows... I think its out of hand at this point.
Lets count them all here...
TW Lendary Haunt Tour - its still a promoted event with seminars blah, blah
Eastern Haunt Convention
Western Haunt Convention
Canada Haunt Convention
There is even now an event in England... I'm sure next year there will be one in Iraq, the haunt tour is walking the streets!
Does Iron Stock still happen??? This doesn't even count there are corn maze events, blah, blah.
Like I said its too much and most of them can't be successful it just isn't possible.
If Transworld is supposed to be for pro haunters who can show they spend 5k or more when will they start enforcing it? It should be that way.
MHC is the perfect alternative and welcomes actors, home haunts and enthusiasts.
Thank you for posting the history of MHC.
It is awesome to know how you got started and your goals.
And you have achieved them.
I also think that you guys have done a great job of filling a niche like I was talking about it another thread. I think actors need an event for them, and MHC is most certainly IT.
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