Haunted convention hits Houston

HOUSTON The 5th Annual Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention (known as HAuNTcon) was held in Houston, April 24-28, 2008. Designed by Haunters, for Haunters, HAuNTcon is a convention and expo that packs every waking moment with everything a Haunter could possibly want or need to make the next Halloween season the best it can be!

HAuNTcon brought together people who love haunted houses and Halloween for a fun filled four days and nights of Haunter Education, Tours of Local Haunted Houses, jam packed Tradeshow Floor, Hearse Rally, Haunted Garage Sale and an incredible Costume Ball!

PHOTOS: See the amazing costumes and makeup creations from the Costume Ball | More photos

"Haunters are the best people on earth," explains Leonard Pickel, editor of Haunted Attraction Magazine, who created HAuNTcon to be an opportunity for Haunters to network, share tips and stories, get fresh ideas, learn new ways to do what they do and check out the latest in Haunting props. "I have often said that Haunters are all siblings separated at birth, and HAuNTcon is just our massive family reunion!"

Pickel got his start as a haunter during his sophomore year at Texas A&M University. With a budget of a mere $300, he produced a haunted house fundraiser for a dormitory. Charging just 50 cents for admission, he raised over $1,000!

HAuNTcon 2008 took a two night pre-show trip to tour Haunted Attractions in Louisiana, including the 13th Gate Haunted House in Baton Rouge.

"I have been to some of the best detailed Haunts in the country," explains Leonard. "Rocky Point, Netherworld, Verdun Manor, but The 13th Gate is an over the top experience. ... The attraction has Disney level detail and set design."

Once back in Houston, attendees were taken on a Thursday night Haunt tour of Nightmare on the Bayou. Host Bob Wright cooked up a Texas style "Choke and Puke." After a full day of HAuNTcon Education and Tradeshow, attendees took a Friday night Haunt tour of Phobia 290.

HAuNTcon Education sessions featured four threads - Haunting Business, Creative, Demonstration, and Make-N-Take. HAuNTcon attendees were treated to a huge tradeshow floor, Friday April 25 through Sunday April 27, filled with exhibitors selling the latest in fright services and equipment for the professional Haunted House owner and the Halloween enthusiast alike.

Saturday night, attendees put their magic to work as they came out to play at a massive Costume Ball sponsored by Haunted Attraction Magazine. On Sunday, the parking lot filled up with the largest collection of creepy tricked out vehicles and funeral cars ever exhibited in Texas for the Hearse and Parade Car Show.

Leonard Pickel:

  • Owner, D.O.A. Design Group™
  • Editor, Haunted Attraction Magazine™
  • President, Hauntrepreneurs® International
  • Owner, Mayhem Manor®
  • Owner, HAuNTcon
  • Leonard has gone from producing his first haunted house in his sophomore year at Texas A&M University -- a dorm fundraiser with a $300 budget and 50 cent admission -- to a vast 29 year career designing all types of commercial Haunted Attractions. He has been called the 'godfather' of the Haunted Attraction Industry.

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