OTTUMWA — Halloween enthusiasts didn’t have to wait a few more weeks to celebrate Halloween, they just had to go to the 10th annual Halloweenapalooza.

Halloweenapalooza is the only horror film showcase and Halloween film festival in Iowa.

“Our real drive in all of it is to celebrate all that is Halloween,” founder Jason Bolinger said, “and all that is horror film movie spirits. That’s what our goal is, to raise the awareness of, ‘It’s OK to like scary movies.’ There’s other people out there who like scary movies. It’s OK. The temperature changes; the leaves change colors — we want to celebrate that always.”

Attendees enjoyed coming in costumes, scoping out the different vendors selling Halloween and horror films, watching independent films, looking at the car show and going to different panels. A favorite was the Alex Vincent Q&A, where Vincent spoke of his experiences playing Andy Barclay in the Child’s Play franchise.

This was Vincent’s first Halloweenapaloza, but he is no stranger when it comes to horror film conventions, sometimes taking Chucky with him, happy to take pictures and talk about his role.

“I feel very appreciative and grateful,” Vincent said. “It’s exciting, you know. I made the first film [Child’s Play] 32 years ago, so I thought I’d never be able to travel the country and meet people. I love having an effect on people — seeing them and making them laugh,” Vincent said.

Vincent had an excellent time, especially with the fans.

“The organizers have been really courteous and generous and sweet, fans here are very kind and warm. The town in general has been very welcoming and kind,” Vincent said.

Bolinger was star struck meeting Vincent and thrilled for the turnout.

“We’ve had so much more people than we thought, as far as ticket sales, people traveling out of town,” he said.

Bolinger said the success of Halloweenapaloza, let alone having the festival dedicated to Halloween and horror films, was surreal.

“The first year we just had a zombie walk,” Bolinger said. “Then we were like, ‘Hey, let’s have bands play, let’s add Rocky Horror. Now it’s a big kitchen sink event. Brining celebrities to our little town is cool and getting to meet these people.”

Bill Fischer, a stand-up comedian, came to perform comedy at the event as well as to celebrate Halloween.

“We should get rid of Valentine’s Day and have a second Halloween,” Fischer said with a laugh. “I love Halloween. I celebrate Halloween how some people celebrate Christmas. I love horror movies. It’s my favorite holiday.”

Emily Randolph is also a Halloween enthusiast. She’s been coming for 10 years, something she doesn’t see changing.

“Horror is my life,” Randolph said with a laugh. “I’ve seen a lot of my usual vendors here every year. That’s a big thing for me because it’s like getting back together with old friends. But again, Alex Vincent being here — that’s a huge treat for me. It’s a family reunion for me. I hope it keeps going for many years and it keeps growing and more people find out about it and we just keep bringing crowds every year.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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