Looking like the set of the popular AMC television series “The Walking Dead,” the Missouri Sate Fairgrounds was transformed Halloween day for Sedalia’s first-ever Zombie Zoom 5K.
Although these “undead” didn’t consume what was left of humanity after the zombie apocalypse, they helped “terrorize” runners to raise money for Sedalia’s furry friends.
Zombie Zoom, hosted by Heather Bennett, with proceeds going toward the Sedalia Animal Shelter, featured not only vendors, a costume contest, a flash mob, and animal shelter pet adoptions but also a makeup artist setup especially to create zombies or “walkers” for the event.
The cold drizzly rain didn’t stop the “biters,” but added to the apocalyptic atmosphere of doom and gloom. The group was busy by 10 a.m. setting up on the upper midway area of the fairgrounds.
Nathan Mcmillin, who works in the financial aid office at State Fair Community College, and his girlfriend Brandi DeFrenne, an SFCC Ag student, were transformed into the living dead under the deft artistry of Nichole (Phelps) Vallery.
Vallery, an on-site stylist and owner of Long Lasting Impressions, used a combination of glue, toilet paper, coffee grounds, foundation and corn syrup laced with red food coloring to create the perfect “walker.”
“It’s so much better than the makeup you get in the stores,” she said.
No two zombie faces were the same, with each face evolving as she worked on it.
“Each one is different,” she said, adding coffee grounds to the peeling “skin” on DeFrenne’s face. “It depends on if they want it more gory.”
By race time at 1:30 p.m., Vallery had created 12 zombie faces.
Bennett said she decided to coordinate the Zombie Zoom after participating in the last two color runs hosted by the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland and Child Safe of Central Missouri Inc.
“It sparked this flame inside me,” Bennett said. “I thought this is great, I love how everybody came together for the cause.”
She added that she wanted to host a 5K but needed a cause to sponsor. Charles Nichols, her boyfriend, came up with the idea to donate to the animal shelter.
The event began to grow as she worked on pulling it together.
“It’s been a lot more work than I anticipated,” she said. “I just started off with a 5K race, but then I thought ‘I just can’t make a race, lets make a party out of it on Halloween.’
“I found out that for the animal shelter, October is actually Adopt a Shelter Dog Month,” she added. “So, we tied it all in together, to do a little bit of everything.”
She said she had 45 people lined up to portray zombies, but participants were also welcome to dress the part with the help of Vallery.
“I’ve been telling everybody to just come prepared,” she added.
Bennett said the event had brought in approximately $2,000 and those signing up for it had exceeded her expectations.
“She only aimed for 200 participants, and she’s got almost 250,” Leslie Martin, Bennett’s friend, said.
“I did really only expect 50 to begin with, and then 200,” Bennett added. “Then it went over, so I ran completely out of supplies.”
“It’s a good problem to have,” Martin added.
Bennett said 5K committee member and vendor Erin Haulotte helped pull the event together. Haulotte added she was amazed at Bennett’s zeal.
“She has truly done something amazing,” Haulotte noted. “She has gone above and beyond; I have never seen anybody be as committed and work as hard as she has. She has completely turned this into a wonderful event.
“She’s not just a pet lover, but a lover of people,” Haulotte added.
While Haulotte helped gain sponsors for the event, Martin helped by organizing the vendors.
“She’s (also) helped me pack everything and helped me for the last two days get ready for everything,” Bennett added.
Bennett hopes to host the event next year.
“As long as everybody loves it, we’re going to do it next year,” she said. “I think we have a pretty good group already and think everybody’s excited.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.