You know Halloween is lurking around the corner when candy corn Oreos appear on the shelves, Spirit stores start popping up in abandoned shopping centers, and Martha Stewart is demonstrating how to make your own cob web tablecloths in 87 simple steps.
But this fall, something new is on the horizon.
On September 29, the first-ever Keen Halloween Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the New School for the Arts in Tempe; and before your mind jumps to kettle corn and hay rides, let us clarify, this is no ordinary Halloween hootenanny.
Assembling artists, vendors, workshops, and entertainment, the Keen Halloween Festival aims to rival our usual corporate, holiday standbys by recreating the old school, artistic, and often homemade, Halloween of childhoods and imaginations.
Keen Halloween is the Frankenstein creation of Daniel and Dawna Davis, co-founders of indie artist brand Steam Crow. Since 2005 these two have been creating all forms of monster -themed media including books, prints, toys, and glassware.
"I've always loved monsters," says Daniel Davis. "When I was a little kid in the 70's, monster culture was everywhere: toys, breakfast cereals, album covers, and cartoons were injected with monsters, and it seeped into my imagination. Creatures and beasts tainted my brain ... When I discovered that there was this holiday that encouraged me to dress up like a Dracula, a Mummy, or a ghost - and you could go around getting free candy from strangers -- It blew my mind! I was hooked!"
Of course the Davis duo wasn't content with keeping this holy holiday all to themselves:
"We realized that Halloween and monsters are at the core of Steam Crow, and that we wanted to do something really big to celebrate the culture of Halloween with the community," says Daniel. "We wanted to be a part of that experience, and we thought that it would be cool to also encourage folks to make their own Halloween better, to get involved in making costumes, decorations and the old-time do-it-yourself Halloween. Since this idea didn't exist, we decided that we had to start it ourselves."
Teaming up with local talents, the Davis' have put together an event that walks the cobweb-thin line of being family friendly without being family fueled.
"Keen Halloween is for people that are passionate about Halloween. It's for folks who want to get inspired, and who want more from their own Halloween experience. It's for kids, but also for adults who never stopped being Halloween kids."
The one-day spectacle will feature workshops including How-to Do Sugar Skull Face Painting, Stylish Zombies 101 taught by the Brillaire Hairdressing Academy, and an Evil Genius Costume Bar (think Apple genius bar, for costume troubleshooting and inspiration).
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There will also be a Monster Market featuring creepy creatives including Dead Meat Designs, Chaos in Color, Tiki Machine, Creepy Little Productions, and of course Steam Crow.
Through the day they've also lined up entertainment acts like Dr. Diabolic, the Haymarket Squares, and an Iron Skull Costume Challenge (think project runway only live on-stage and with more skulls)
Tickets can be purchased in advance for $7 or at the door for $10 (children 12 and under are free). To buy your discounted tickets ahead of time, and to find out more about the event and its participants visit Keen Halloween online.