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Halloween Came Early at the 15th Annual Hearse Fest in Hell

The denizens of Hell gathered for the 15th annual Hearse Fest and we were there for all the ghoulish fun.
Greetings from Hell, MI
Greetings from Hell, MI

The annual gathering of hearse owners and enthusiasts known as Hearse Fest was held Saturday in Hell, Michigan. Hell’s own Just Hearse’N Around hearse car club, of which Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) and Elvira are members, have been organizing this unique event for 15 years, and it was about time we checked it out. I mean, how often do you have the opportunity to utilize so many Hell puns in one day?

Cult of Weird resident mad taxidermist Rob Reysen and I departed for Hell with boxes full of Grave Digger Candles at about 2am. The burning question on my mind at that point was: Which circle of Hell is the coffee on?

The road to Hell from Wisconsin was a 6-hour drive through pouring rain and dark, desolate countryside. It was still raining in Hell when we arrived – just long enough, apparently, to make setting up our chapel of beeswax abominations as complicated as possible. Soon after, however, the sun came out, the humidity rose, and Hell lived up to its infernal reputation. Still, the quaint little town, which seems to be no more than a few houses, two bars, and Screams (the souvenir shop) was surprisingly pleasant. Where else can you experience Hell on Earth while enjoying mini golf and the best ice scream this side of the Styx?

A wide variety of hearses of all makes and models came out for the festivities, with an equally diverse range of vendors selling original art, preserved dead things, bones, jewelry, and more. I didn’t get a chance to stop by every booth like I wanted to, which was probably a good thing because I would have wanted at least one of everything. But I did manage to finally meet the ghouls behind my favorite purveyor of monochromatic grime Dead Sled Brand.

Dead Sled Brand at Hearsefest 2016 in Hell, MI
Yes, they really are B&W in real life.

Dead Sled Brand enamel pin, button, and t-shirt
Brought some Dead Sled gear back from Hell!

The hearse used in the flyer design by Robert Paul Nixon
Custom diecast hearse made by Ronnie Duke.

The diecast hearse used by Robert Paul Nixon in the design for this year’s flyer was made by Just Hearse’N Around member Ronnie Duke. It was auctioned off at the end of the day.

Diecast Johnny Lightning and Matchbox hearses
Huge thanks to Ronnie Duke for the new additions to my humble beginner hearse collection!

Trick or Treat came early this year in Hell. Zombies, monsters and devils crawled out of their spider holes to haunt Hearse Fest for the Halloween costume contest. We spent the day beside a nun who was happily flogging anyone who would stand still and bend over long enough.

Dedd Fredd with candy at Hearsefest
Take the candy or Dedd Fredd feasts on your brain. You decide.

Oh yeah, Hearse Fest has hearses, too.

Hearses at Hell's Hearsefest 2016

Old Packard hearse

Ghostbusters hearse

You're going to be dead a long time

Going to Hell...for Hearsefest

Undertaker hearse

I tried to share more photos throughout the day on the Instagram feed, but it turns out phone service isn’t so great in Hell. Some comments questioned if it could really be Hell if there was coffee, and the answer is yes! I did find coffee in Hell. Unfortunately, Deadly Grounds didn’t make it because their hearse broke down en route, but I managed to find some at Screams instead.

Deadly Grounds Coffee
I found Deadly Grounds coffee in Hell.

It was great to meet everyone and see the meat wagons. Can’t wait to do it again!

We’re Going to Hell for the 15th Annual Hearse Fest

Hell, MI is home to an annual hearse car show and parade organized by Hell’s own Just Hearse’n Around car club.
Hell's hearse Fest 2016
Hell’s 15th annual Hearse Fest

I had an opportunity to buy a hearse when I was 17. It was parked on a farm just outside town. I don’t remember anymore what make or year it was, but it was probably a late 70s or early 80s model in beautiful condition. It was black, of course, much like my horror, Halloween and death-obsessed teenage heart…and I wanted it badly. I stopped one day to talk to the owners, and they offered it to me for $5,000. That was probably a great price for a hearse in that condition, but, frankly, there was no way in Hell I could cough up that much money.

It’s been a long time since that day, and if I was offered the same price on that hearse now, I still couldn’t afford it. So instead I bought a Matchbox hearse, and I’m going to revel in the macabre majesty of the annual hearse gathering in Hell, Michigan known as Hearse Fest.

1963 Cadillac Matchbox hearse
This 1963 Cadillac Matchbox hearse is as close as I’m getting to being a hearse owner. via @mentalshed

The event, now in it’s 15th year, is organized by members of the Just Hearse’n Around car club. Festivities include a PineBox Derby race, hotdogs and burgers from the casket grills, Halloween costume contest, hearse parade, vendors, and live entertainment throughout the day by Creepy Clyde and DJ Surfer Joe. Awards are given for various categories including Scariest Hearse, Best Casket Cart, and “How the Hell did it make it here?” I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season.

I’ll be there with Cult of Weird resident mad taxidermist and morbid candle maker Rob Reysen at the Grave Digger Candles booth.

See you in Hell!

15th annual Hearsefest in Hell, MI
Hearse Fest flier by one of my favorite artists, Robert Paul Nixon. Prints of this killer design are for sale right here.

World’s Longest Parade of Hearses…in Hell

Hearse parade in Hell, MI
World record-setting hearse parade in Hell, 2011. Photo via Just Hearse’n Around.

In 2011, during the 10th annual hearse car show then known as Last Rides Reunion Hearse Show, Just Hearse’n Around set the Guinness World Record for the longest parade of hearses with a total of 51. Unfortunately, the record was beat the following year with a parade in the Netherlands consisting of 107 hearses.

Hearse Fest starts at 10am on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 4025 Patterson Lake Road, Hell. More info at hearsefest.com