Screamfest lives on in new event launching in 2019

Fright Night: Screamfest participants get a scare even outside the haunted houses on Oct. 12, 2018 in the Grandstand Building at Stampede Park. Patrons braved the cold to visit the six outdoor haunted houses and indoor festivities. (Photo by Sydney Walker/The Press)

After scaring Calgarians for more than a decade, Screamfest has announced a new event for next year for Halloween.

“Although, yes, I am very sad that Screamfest, as we know it, is ending, we are coming up with something else,” says Michael Sheppard, Screamfest founder. The original event marked its final year this year.

“It’s called HEX, Halloween and Entertainment Expo.”

Sheppard explained the event as a “mashup” of Screamfest and Comic Expo, “but for Halloween lovers.”

The one-weekend event will take place completely indoors at the beginning of October 2019, and will feature a separate space for the haunted houses.

The rest of the space will be occupied by vendors, celebrities, customers in cosplay, and Halloween-themed learning seminars.

During these seminars, customers will have an opportunity to learn how to carve pumpkins or build props for Halloween.

“We’ll have anything to do with Halloween, as opposed to just the ‘scaring’ side,” Sheppard said.

After planning for this new event for the last couple of years, Sheppard and his wife found a partner that loved their idea and bought into the company.

“They saw our vision,” said Sheppard of Canwest Productions, their new partner.

Canwest Productions already stages the Calgary Tattoo & Arts Festival, the Calgary Women’s Show and  other events.

“We know events, and they know trade shows,” said Sheppard, adding that they’d be able to “put on a good event” between the two of them.

Sheppard and his wife have been in the Halloween business for 18 years, during which he started the Fright Nights event in Vancouver.

They also held Fright Nights in Calgary for a year, but it was too difficult to have two different locations with the same name, so they changed it to Screamfest for Calgary.

Sheppard described Screamfest as a “Halloween carnival.”

There are rides, carnival games, and entertainment that include a monster truck ride and “zombie paintball.”

Sheppard also started another business called Cobb’s Adventure Park, where they also have a Halloween-themed event called “Field of Screams.”

They have five haunted houses out there, and even a kangaroo petting zoo, but it’s all outdoors, as opposed to Screamfest and the upcoming HEX.

We’ll have anything to do with Halloween, as opposed to just the ‘scaring’ side. – Michael Sheppard

“We are very much into the Halloween business,” Sheppard says.

Sheppard says that he is drawn to businesses that are entertainment, where people can have a good time.

“I like watching the people laugh and scream and just have a good night out,” said Sheppard.

About Sydney Walker 2 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Sydney Walker is working as a writer for The Press during the 2018-19 academic year.