OTTUMWA — It’s not even fall, and residents are already gearing up for all things fall, especially for Halloweenapalooza.
Early anticipation led people to Market on Main Saturday to create jack-o’-lantern canvases for Halloweenapalooza’s fundraiser. Local artist Alex Batterson taught attendees how to paint their canvases using acrylic paint.
If you’re not already familiar with Halloweenapalooza, it’s an annual event for residents and people from all over the Midwest to get together and enjoy Halloween festivities from zombie walks to costume contests.
Jason Bolinger, founder of Halloweenapalooza, created the event 10 years ago because he and a group of friends consider themselves Halloween enthusiasts and wanted to create an event solely for Halloween. Although Bolinger has hosted many fundraisers before and continues doing so, this was only the second year Costume and Canvas was held.
“We wanted something Halloween inspired,” Bolinger said. “We wanted folks to be able to come together and get creative. Everyone’s painting the same thing, but also add their different touch. We wanted to give people the opportunity to try something else. With the different Jack-o’-lantern’s, I loved getting to see people create something and try something new without compromising their creativity.”
Batterson taught attendees how to create acrylic canvases last year. Even though this was the second year Costume and Canvas was held, Batterson said there was something different last year. “We did a haunted tree last year,” Batterson said. “It was a tree on a Tim Burton-like hill. We changed it up to do something different.”
Batterson wanted to come back not because she is a longtime artist but because she enjoys teaching and helping to fundraise. “I told them I had a great time last year and said, ‘If you want to do another fundraiser, let’s get it done.’ I enjoyed getting to see people create something and getting them out of their comfort zones to try something new.”
Batterson said she especially enjoyed the Costume and Canvas fundraiser because she liked seeing how proud people got for their paintings after doubting their artistic abilities. “A lot of times people don’t like to paint because they don’t think they’re good at it,” she said. “This gives them a chance to try it without judgement. I’m happy to help them pick up techniques if they want to keep on doing it.”
Fundraising for Halloweenapalooza is not over yet. Bolinger, Batterson and volunteers continue with the hope that there will be enough funds to provide for Halloweenapalooza’s activities, food and refreshments. Bolinger is not worried about earning more funds, only confident.
“The event keeps growing every year,” Bolinger said. “More and more people come. Every little dollar helps, and we’ll always do it (fundraising) because we like doing it.”
Bolinger said the event continues to grow because of the added guests and because Halloweenpalooza decided to host its event at Hotel Ottumwa for two days instead of one, this year being on Oct. 11-12.
“With the film festival we can show more movies and do more things in general,” Bolinger said. “The big one (guest) is Alex Vincent; he played Andy the little kid in ‘Child’s Play.’ He’s also bringing Chucky and will stay for two days. He’ll take pictures and sign autographs. We’re excited to have him because everyone knows Chucky.”
Bolinger also said the event keeps growing because attendees even come from outside the Midwest. “It’s become a big international film festival,” Bolinger said. “A lot of the filmmakers come from around town and different actors and actresses come.”
Although many residents already have been to Halloweenpaloza, Bolinger does encourage more residents to come. “I’m excited to see everyone. It’s a way for residents to see the community and have fun. It’s going to be a great time. There’s nothing like it in Ottumwa.”
Chiara Romero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.