Monstrous fun

Annual Hauntfest on 5th returns

By Janell Ward

Photo: Hauntfest on 5th returns to the Oregon District on Oct. 25; photo: Anthony Davis

Get bewitched this year at the 29th annual Hauntfest on 5th. The Halloween festivities will be located on Fifth Street in the Oregon District from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. on Oct. 25. The theme for this year’s fest is Classic Movie Monsters.

Originally called “Boo and Brew,” Hauntfest was first organized by a group of local bars that combined their efforts to throw a huge Halloween bash in the Oregon District. Six years ago, the name was changed to Hauntfest when the Oregon District Business Association (ODBA) took full charge of the event, in order to make it safe and more family friendly. The cackles caught on and year after year participation and excitement has grown; Hauntfest is now averaging 15,000 visitors each year.

The silly and spooky evening also holds a deeper purpose and meaning. Hauntfest uses their proceeds to give back to the community. All the proceeds are going to the Oregon District Business Association, which puts 100 percent of the funds back into the redevelopment of the business district and donates to several non-profit organizations including Dayton Boys Choir, the Dayton Ski and Board Club, the Handicap Skier program and several sports teams, including Dayton Rugby.

“I love watching people enjoying themselves. It’s something I’ve had a part in,” Dan Hapner, who has been the event manager of Hauntfest on 5th for the past five years, said. “The entire idea is to turn over money to the ODBA.”

Not only will the party be haunted with dozens of goblins and witches, but there will also be loads of volunteers who will help ensure that Hauntfest is safe, fun and successful. “We have about 400 volunteers that night and they are all non-profit groups that we pay to come and help us,” Hapner said.

Costume crazy

Don’t be shy; there will be thousands of people uniquely dressed. The Hauntfest organizers have seen it all, from Smurfs to Frankenstein. Up to 90 percent of attendees arrive in costume. “People can wear whatever they want,” Hapner said. “Last year, we had two people on stilts. They were just fabulous. We get everything – zombies, vampires … and we will get people that do not come in costume. It’s a great place to people watch. Some people come down just to watch other people.”

You do not want to miss the costume contest with first-, second- and third-place prizes awarded in three different categories, including individual, group, and best-dressed classic movie monster. Prizes will be given in the form of cash and trophies. The preliminary judging begins at 9:30 p.m. with the finals at 10 p.m.

Even monsters gotta eat

Several food vendors will be available at Hauntfest. Some of the participating vendors include Pita Pockets, Pork and Bottle, Hearts Hot Dogs and many more. All Oregon District bars will also be open and will be serving food and drinks on the streets.

Bring your cash or bring your card and take a pick from wonderful dishes such as Bourbon Chicken with Rice and Beans, gyros, chicken or steak pitas and fried fish, chicken or shrimp baskets. These delicious food items will be served by Pita Pockets, owned by Charles Lawless. You must also taste their Voodoo Chicken – a perfect taste for a spooky evening of fun. Lawless said he began attending Hauntfest about 20 years ago and still enjoys it.

“I like going to this event,” he said. “It is a premier event in Dayton. It is so fun to see the best costumes. You get to walk down the street with your beer. The best thing is just being there in the atmosphere. I like to be a part of that.”

Hauntfest will also host new street performers and some popular returning performers, such as The Wrestlers. “People will just stand around and watch them wrestle,” Hapner said. The live entertainment also includes two musical performers – talented DJ T.J. Larrick and headliners K-Town Mafia from Tennessee.

Come out and try the Monster Bomb drink being served this year. If you want an adult beverage, remember your I.D. so you can get a wristband for the evening. There will also be tickets you can purchase to drink alcohol. Remember, you cannot use cash to buy alcohol from vendors on the street.

Hauntfest encourages families to attend the event. “It is perfectly safe,” Hapner said. “It’s a controlled environment. So people, families, individuals are welcome to come down. The Dayton Police are there, Liquor Control is there, and it is all fenced in.” You will be able to enter through the gates at both ends of Fifth Street, on Wayne and on Patterson.

Hauntfest on 5th will take place on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. in the Oregon District on Fifth Street. Tickets are $5 and are available at all the business on Fifth Street. After 9 p.m. on Oct. 25, tickets will cost $10. For more information, please visit or call 937.974.2494.

Reach DCP freelance writer Janell R. Ward at

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