By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Apr 29, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Halloween's half birthday is becoming quite the celebration these days. Thankfully, there's not much more to the holiday than a few good spooks and a crazy costume or two. (Can you imagine if we started honoring the half-way point to the winter holidays at the end of June? There'd be rioting.)

The tail end of April is the official six-month marker between any two Halloweens, and while last week we told you about Milwaukee's own Hallowang, we're still in the spirit this week with news on the sixth annual Hauntcon, the Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention at the Wyndham Airport Hotel and Convention Center, 4747 S. Howell Ave., April 30-May 4.

Hauntcon is open to all aspiring and established haunters and features more than 50 hours of seminars, workshops and demonstrations with experts from across the country teaching tips and tricks on set and prop design, ticketing promotions and more.

Even if you're just looking to host the most bad-ass Halloween party of all time, this is probably your place to stock up on all things gory and disgusting.

"Hauntcon is an opportunity for haunters to network, share tips and stories, get fresh ideas, learn new ways of doing things and check out the latest in haunting props," explains Leonard Pickel, editor of Haunted Attraction Magazine and Hauntcon event coordinator.

"It is the best money you can spend to build a great haunted event."

Here's why you, as someone who presumably does not own nor operate a haunted attraction -- yet enjoys the occasional October visit -- should care. Hauntcon kicks off  April 29 with a pre-show tour that brings Wisconsin Haunted Attractions alive for a rare spring showcase. The overnight bus trip includes lights-on and lights-off tours of the Hartford Jaycees Haunted House, Terror on Rural Street Crypt of Terror, Bad Boy's Scenic Design's Terror on the Fox, Shawano Manor and Dominion of Terror.

The Thursday Night Kick-off Tour and Social on April 30 includes dinner and a tour of the Realm of Terror. The Friday Night Haunt Tour, May 1, showcases the three haunt multi-element event Wisconsin Fear Grounds, Morgan Manor, Freaky's Fun House and the brand new Unstable.

Saturday, May 2, is the massive Haunted Attraction Magazine Costume Ball, where haunters from across the country show-off their most creative costumes at a rocking party that celebrates the joy of getting into character for fun rather than for work.

Oh, and you might not want to pass on the hearse and parade car rally featuring tricked out funeral cars on Sunday, May 3.

Tickets for all events are available via the Hauntcon Web site.


Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”