by Lorie Lewis Ham
This Halloween weekend many of us are looking for something fun and scary to do and a costume to wear, but there is a group of Valley people who enjoy something scary and wearing a great costume, any time of the year. That group is the Central Valley Horror Club based out of Visalia.
Local graphic/web designer Kaci Hansen started the club in 2008. After spending hours traveling to Los Angeles and the Bay area for horror conventions every year, she really had a desire to have something going on in her own area that she wouldn’t have to travel three or more hours to partake in, even if it was on a much smaller scale. “I basically just made a Myspace page and a WordPress blog, and it all took off from there. Friends really liked the idea, and helped spread the word.”
The club was started to unite horror fans of the area, as well as like-minded artists and musicians. “We know there are not a lot of all-ages options for entertainment in the Central Valley, and to our knowledge, there was absolutely nothing going on in Visalia to promote the horror genre,” continued Kaci. “We wanted to create something fun, affordable and unique for people to do here, which is why we try to offer an array of events, so there is surely something suitable for every age group and preference.”
Kaci began hosting free horror movie nights at local restaurants, and would make online event invites and pass out fliers at local concerts. Their first free movie night brought in over 60 people. “I was amazed at the positive feedback I received, and continued to do one almost every month. I did a few variations on the events, such as having an art show at one, or having a voting poll online where people could vote for which movie they wanted to see next.”
In 2009, she decided to take it to another level by hosting horror-themed music events with the help of friends, family and her boyfriend Salvador. The group brought the first Zombie Ball, Zombie Crawl, Vampire Ball and Monster Mash to the area. “We took a big risk with our first Zombie Ball, being that it was in August 2009. It’s tough to not only find decorations at that time of year, but also to get people to get into costume. But the turnout was amazing.” Around 250 people showed up, and Kaci stated that it was exciting to see how people got creative with their makeup and costumes without the convenience of the Halloween stores being available. To help, Kaci posted some ideas and tutorials on their Myspace Blog. She also posted some easy, inexpensive fake blood recipes that were 100% edible and made with ingredients that are in nearly every kitchen.
Their second themed-concert was their first Vampire Ball in late October 2009. Again, they felt it was a little risky, being that there is a lot of competition with events towards the end of October, but the turnout was just as big as for the Zombie Ball. The night before Halloween 2009, they hosted a free Monster Mash, which included a free showing of the movie Trick ‘r Treat, music from a band and a DJ, and a costume contest. “We didn’t anticipate a huge turnout, being the date that it was, but still wanted to offer something free and all-ages. We had approximately 150 people throughout the night at the Monster Mash, which we were thrilled about.”
This year’s big event was on October 2 when they hosted the second annual Visalia Zombie Ball & Crawl. Attendance was around 400 people, with some coming from as far as Monterey, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. The Zombie Crawl took place down Mooney Blvd. “I don’t think people knew what hit them,” shared Kaci. “People were laughing, honking, screaming, waving and taking pictures and videos of all of the action. It was really cool to go on Facebook the next day and see comments like, ‘I can’t believe I saw a Zombie Crawl on Mooney!’”
“The Zombie Ball & Crawl is like a bottle of wine it gets even better every year,” stated attendee Heather Barnes.
The group also had the crowning of their first Creepshow Queen Contest, which was their way of searching for the ‘spooksmodel’ of Zombie Ball 2011. The Creepshow Queen will help announce bands and host the events at the next Zombie Ball. Sonia Soleno took home the crown. “We also had our annual Creepy Cadaver Costume Contest, Children’s Costume Contest, a zombie belly dance performance, and live music from GATJA and CATHARSUS, and a raffle for a very special Zombie Ball cake. It was an amazing turnout, and we have tons of cool photos on our Facebook page.”
Many local businesses and other promoters in the area like to pair up with them around Halloween. This year, they did face painting at X Factor Fitness on October 28, and will be doing a raffle for a spooky Halloween cake at Sound N Vision’s “A Nightmare Before Halloween” at the Cellar Door on Saturday, October 30. Other upcoming events include their Visalia Zombie Pub Crawl in downtown Visalia in December, and their (Anti-Valentine’s Day) Vampire Ball on February 12, 2011. They also have plans to do a Fresno Zombie Ball & Crawl in Spring 2011. All news and updates will be posted on their Facebook page and websites, and soon there will be a link on the KRL links page.
The Club is open to anyone who is interested. Kaci said they don’t really have members; just whoever is interested in attending their events is more than welcome to do so. They usually have their free movie nights at a local pizza parlor. The best way to obtain a list of their events and their locations is to ‘Like’ their Facebook page or to friend them on Myspace. They will be resuming their free monthly movie nights in November.
“It’s truly an amazing feeling to see how excited people get about what I’m doing here,” said Kaci. “My ultimate goal for Central Valley Horror Club was to meet other fans of the genre, and to unite them. But it went beyond that. People who don’t even like horror films, or have never really been exposed to them, attend our events and have a great time. A lot of people often complain that there isn’t anything to do here, so I tried to bring the Central Valley a little piece of what cities like Los Angeles are doing to keep the horror genre alive. I truly feel that I have surpassed my original goal, and I can’t wait to see what we do next.”