Ghosts and ghouls will be haunting Oklahoma City a few weeks early this year as Halloween enthusiasts flock to the fan conference spooktacular, TrickConTreat.
Organizers have crammed in so many elements of Halloween into the three-day festival conference that the event will be busting at the seams with creepy culture fanatics.
"We are called the Halloween culture convention because we focus on everything from trick-or-treating, paranormal investigations, movies, music, Goth culture. We don't exclude anything that is encompassed by Halloween," organizer Kasandra Dewbre said.
TrickConTreat is officially in its second year, although it really began as an informal gathering 15 years ago that evolved over time, growing into a conference out of necessity.
"Once you've passed 300 people at a party, it's time to move it somewhere else," founder and convention chair Ivarr Brokksson said. "We have combined fan conventions, Halloween fairs and car shows into one big thing. Last year was a single day and a preview of what we wanted to do; this year we have so many activities going on that it expanded out to three days."
The theme for this year's event is B movies. Individual Artists of Oklahoma will handle the film side, which includes a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Other classics, like "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "Reefer Madness," will be joined by the award-winning short film "Timmy," directed by Muskogee's Marc Hall.
"Flick or Treat" is new this year to the conference. Basically a video race, filmmakers will have the weekend to shoot, edit and produce a short film utilizing the conference for some, if not all, of the project's footage. The entries will be screened on the final day of the conference.
The "Hearse and Shock-Rod" show, also featuring "Fright Bikes," will haunt the Holiday Inn parking lot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Dewbre hopes to lure in hearses from across the region, but will be happy with anything on wheels, so as long as it's suitably tricked-out.
"We prefer hearses because that's how the idea started, but we are also looking for hot rods and rat rods that have the Halloween feel with skulls, spiderwebs and other dark stuff," she said.
Stillwater horror novelist Craig Wolf is the literary guest of honor, having written 2005's "Trespass." Magicians, comedians, artists and live musicians will be among the other guests.
The conference will cater to Halloween fans both novice and fully committed, ranging from the young to the old. Cindy Coy is the conference's children's programming director. Kids' activities include classes such as decorating the house and creating costumes with everyday objects, culminating in a parade through the conference and a costume contest.
"They get so into it. They enjoy dressing up and their imagination lets them really get into the spirit," Coy said. "It'll be interesting to see what they can do with a white sheet and some lace curtains from a thrift store."
Unlike the glut of celebrations at the end of the month, TrickConTreat opted to get an early start on the season.
"We didn't want to compete with everything else going on, but also chose to do it early so people can take what they've learned at workshops like 'How to Make a Haunted House' and build one," film programming director Holli Kerr said.
The conference is designed to let enthusiasts indulge in the same fascination that inspired Brokksson to throw the first TrickConTreat party 15 years ago.
"Halloween has always been my thing," Brokksson said. "I grew up with Count Gregore, 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' " all those things that are a part of this time of year, and now I'm trying to push it onto everyone else." "Charles Martin