This year’s Halfway to Horror Fest, a preamble to the annual Kimberley Horror Fest, will be held virtually this year with a concert series, starting on May 13 at 8 p.m. and a second night at the same time the following Thursday, May 20.
The Halfway to Horror Fest event serves as a fun, music-filled party, a chance to don Halloween Costumes in the summer and a reminder for people to start working on their films for the beloved annual Kimberley Horror Fest, which this year will be celebrating its fifth birthday.
Kimberley Horror Fest, like most other things, went online for the 2020 iteration and it was a raucous success, so when organizers Chantel Delaney and Natalie Skokan realized they wouldn’t be able to have an in-person Halfway party this year, they decided to take that online too.
“We always throw a Halfway to Horror Fest event to encourage people to start making their films, so what a great opportunity to focus on our local music scene this year,” Skokan said.
Delaney is a member of the Canadian Live Music Association, which has been advocating for the live music industry to establish a federal recovery funding program for musicians and live music venues.
“We agreed to use this event as an opportunity to fundraise for local musicians and provide a platform for them to share their talents,” Skokan said.
The pandemic has been extremely difficult on musicians around the globe and here in Kimberley, plus Skokan and Delaney both agreed that they’re also just simply “selfishly really missing live music.”
Additionally, they both know a bunch of local musicians who either are working on new material or are learning new instruments, so they look forward to an opportunity to see what they have in store.
What they’ve decided to do is create a virtual concert series that will be free to watch, but donations will be accepted with all funds collected going straight to the artists.
Currently there are 10 bands or musicians signed up and with the deadline for submissions not till May 8, there’s still time for more to get their tunes in.
The plan is to pre-record the event and then host it live via Facebook and YouTube.
“We would love to have it be a live event but everybody’s sound and feedback is different,” Skokan said. “We have found it to be a lot more enjoyable for our viewers if we have it all dialed and recorded first.”
With its fifth anniversary approaching, the Bulletin asked the Horror Fest founders for some of their favourite memories from years past — no simple task, both agreed.
Delaney said the two of them always have a ton of fun with the event and her personal favourite part is pre-screening all the films as they get submitted.
“Nat and I usually get together to watch them and that is when we get really excited about everything,” she said. “Every year the films get better and it is a real joy to see how much effort and creativity people invest in their submissions.”
Skokan agreed, and added she’s particularly fond of the story of how the whole thing got started in the first place.
“Chantel and I were having a beer on a patio somewhere and I was telling her how I was thinking of throwing a few events in town,” she recalled.
“She started to tell me that she was always interested in potentially hosting a horror film festival. The conversation didn’t go much further than that, and I don’t think she realized I was going to take the idea and run with it.
“She went back east for a week and by the time she got back I had booked us a venue and had a mini road map of what KHF might look like. She just laughed at me and said, ‘okay, so we’re actually doing it!’ Five years later here we are!”
An honourable mention was the one year when Chantel’s husband Lennan Delaney rocked out on a fiddle in a T-Rex costume next to Natalie’s husband Oliver McQuaid who was belting out Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes dressed as an old woman. Truly the sort of special memories only the KHF can generate.
It is unlikely that the actual KHF will be able to happen in person again this year, so it will probably be back online again.
“The viewership last year was amazing,” Skokan said. “We had hundreds of people tuning in from coast to coast in Canada and the USA. So many more people got to experience Horror Fest than would have otherwise.”
Their hope is that by going online with the event for a while, they will eventually draw visitors from outside Kimberley’s borders to attend in person when it is safe to do so once more.
“Of course, our preference is an in-person event but at this point, we cannot count on that being a possibility for 2021.”
Sprout Health Market and Kootenay Mortgage are the sponsors of this particular event while Over Time Beer Works, Bohemian Spirits, Stonefire Pizzeria, Big Magic Design and Spirit Rock have been sponsors since the very beginning.
If you are interested in submitting a film for this year’s KHF, anyone with any level of experience is welcome to do so, the only rule is that it must be submitted before Oct. 31 and be under 10 minutes long.
You can check out previous year’s films at www.kimberleyhorrorfest.com or on their YouTube channel.