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Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2009 Great Lakes Fright Fest

June 2, 2009

Greetings, Fellow Haunters:

The 9th annual Great Lakes Fright Fest (GLFF) happened this past weekend at Totem Pole Park - a tidy, compact campground, in Petersburg, Michigan. Once again, I happily enjoyed myself. The show was a pleasant success. Here are some bullet points:

*The number of cans of human food donated: 1,477
*The number of cans of pet food donated: 473
*The number of pounds of dry dog food donated: 1,000 (new record)
*The total number of attendees: more than 400 (new record)
*I celebrated the beginning of my 35th season of haunted-house acting. (Who cares? I do.)
*The haunted house ran from about 9:30 PM till around 12:15 AM
*As of this writing I don’t know what the customer count at the haunt was, but my guess is 325
*Next year’s Great Lakes Fright Fest will be a challenge, but we will all get through it safely.

The bigger picture that Fright Fest producer Kkrazy Kkaren Taylor has been attempting to project in recent years is the phrase “Haunters Against Hunger.” Perhaps another way of articulating it would be something like this: Money is just fancy pieces of paper; but food will keep you alive.

At the GLFF, the attendees feed each other with outright food donations for breakfasts and lunches, and homemade potluck dishes for Saturday dinner. Attendees do even more by feeding those less fortunate by donating food items as admission to the haunted house. The haunt did not raise as many cans of human food as it did last year, but the amount of pet food that was donated took a nice jump.

No one goes hungry at Great Lakes Fright Fest because of the waterfall of food donations. It seems that every attendee brings something for the greater good.

A few more bullet points:

*The seminars on Saturday morning were actually ahead of schedule. (Unusual? Quite.)
*There were more dogs at the Fright Fest than I can remember. For the first time, there were Greyhound rescue dogs amongst us.
*The days were sunny and glorious, but the temperatures never climbed above the low 70s.
*Totem Pole Park was completely sold out for the weekend.
*The fog was thicker at The Grand Fog-off on Saturday night than ever before. The complete lack of a breeze in the early evening was instrumental for spreading a lingering fog for hundreds of yards in all directions.
*Mother Nature continued her good streak by not raining on us while the haunt was open. She did send down a few tiny sprinkles as we partied away around 1 AM. We’re not mad. Honest.

I have told you about some of the smile-inducing moments at Great Lakes Fright Fest. But the sad thing I must inform you of is that I will not be able to attend next year. Kkrazy Kkaren regretfully announced to the crowd that in 2010 both the Great Lakes Fright Fest and the Midwest Haunters Convention will take place on the same weekend. This is a choice I wish I didn’t have to make, but my business commitments to MHC and the IAHA win out.

The fact that I can’t attend the Fright Fest in 2010 makes me doubly grumpy because it will be their 10th anniversary. But I’m not worried for them. The Fright Fest doesn’t try to be a typical haunted convention with vendor booths, haunt tours and a costume ball. Instead, it actively bills itself as a family reunion for haunters. Since there are so many home haunters (the show’s target audience) in the general Detroit/Toledo area, I predict that attendance will be fine.

In just the past few years, some of the annual activities of the International Association of Haunted Attractions have taken place at MHC, rather than at the TransWorld convention. (The year 2009 is no exception.) Perhaps the Fright Fest should invite the several different associations of home haunters to attend? Home Haunters of America and Home Haunters Association are just two of them. If these organizations can be coaxed into joining up with GLFF in 2010, my opinion is that attendance could actually grow.

You should see my 2009 photographs on the GLFF’s Web site by early next week.

Very truly yours,

Rex B. Hamilton

13939 Clifton Boulevard
Lakewood, Ohio 44107-1462
216.226.7764 (home)
[email protected]

“A haunted house is only as good as its actors.” Wayne Sealy, Mystery Manor, Omaha, NE
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