ScareFest 6 dominated Lexington this weekend, bringing in thousands of attendees to meet their favorite horror movie and paranormal stars. Lexington is no stranger to national, even international attention, but would you believe ScareFest is the biggest horror/paranormal convention in the world? Believe it. Horror films, along with the success of paranormal television series like Ghosthunters and Ghost Adventures have exploded in popularity.
Back in 2006, the same year ScareFest was first discussed, you were hard-pressed to find another dedicated ghost hunting series besides the groundbreaking SyFy attraction, Ghost Hunters. The show featured two regular guys who worked for Roto Rooter by day and investigated haunted hotspots by night. The series quickly acclimated us to weird devices like EMF detectors, Mel meters, EVP recordings, and the like. Now, prime time television is populated with shows like the insanely popular Travel Channel hit, Ghost Adventures, which helped spawn other shows like The Dead FIles, Paranormal State, Deep South Paranormal, and even an Animal Planet show dedicated to our furry friends perception of the phenomena. I’m totally serious. Don’t think moronic “reality” shows like Jersey Shore or Real Housewives have the market cornered.
No early attendance numbers were available when I wrote this article, but 2012’s ScareFest 5 saw over 15,000 fans. Yep, I said fifteen thousand. You might not be into this popular subset of entertainment, but I promise a lot of us are. Curious how this landed in our backyard, a town dominated by UK basketball and horse racing? That’s simple.
Patti Starr, the convention co-founder and member of Ghost Chasers International said, “We came up with Scarefest in 2006. Jeff Waldrige (he’s a former student – I teach ghost hunting) asked me one day if I would be interested in doing a horror convention. And I’m not too much into horror so I said ‘not really, but let me ask you something, has there ever been a horror and paranormal convention?”
The convention has grown over the years, pulling in A list celebs, paranormal stars, hundreds of like-minded vendors, and just about anything related to the industry. This year, the storied actor from films like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Caligula, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween: Mr. Malcolm McDowell was the star attraction. Yeah, I had a hard time accepting that too, as shown by my stunned expression when it was my turn to shake his hand and nervously tell him my name. Luckily for me, Mr. McDowell was a complete gentleman, more than capable of coming across warm and engaging. I was lucky enough to grab one of the Joel Robinson limited edition prints, so I have more than a memory of the event. Check back in October for an interview with the talented Joel Robinson.
As fate would have it, the real star of the convention was Aaron Goodwin of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. Aaron, along with lead investigator, Zak Bagans (also in attendance), and Nick Groff, have turned ghost hunting into big business. Bagans, known for his combative method of dealing with particularly dark spirits, has helped stamp a lasting imprint on the genre. Goodwin started a company called Big Steppin to showcase his photos taken the world over. His booth had a line stretching to the deeper recesses of the convention center every time I was near. Including both times I stood in line for a photo or some merch. He was kind and energetic no matter when you stood in line, news that spread throughout the hall like wildfire. He was cool enough to record this promo for the very site you’re visiting now. How awesome is that?
Fans were treated to their favorite actors all weekend, including Kane Hodder, Ken Foree, several members of the True Blood cast, Ted White, Danielle Harris, Nancy Loomis, and Bruce Davison. You can click here to check out the complete listing. My young niece, a horror fan in waiting, went with me on Saturday and didn’t know what to make of the insanity. She was drawn in caricature as a zombie, terrified by many a cosplayer or haunted attraction representative, and even gushed over Zak Bagan’s personalized autograph. Start them young, guys.
While I’m sad to see ScareFest 6 go, I can rest easy (and I need the rest!) knowing that 2014 will most likely have a killer roster and impeccable planning. If you’ve been on the floor at a ComicCon, you’ll truly appreciate the space, the plentiful air conditioning, and expertly planned scene. Remember, the guys throwing this gig are as much a fan as yourself. Horror rules.
A very appreciative thank you to the event planners for allowing me to cover the event as a horror-loving Lexingtonian. It was a treat to hang with all the fans and stars alike. Check out my idiotic question for Zak Bagans on the Black Carpet press-only event.
Ken Foree! What a cool guy for agreeing to a promo for me.