HAA Scholarship Program

Scholarship Rules / Selection Criteria

The Haunted Attraction Association (HAA), the only official association of the haunt industry, is proud to announce two new scholarships; The James K. Smith scholarship and the Joe Thaler scholarship.

These scholarships are available to any actor, makeup artist, or other cast or crew member of any HAA member above the Associate member level. The recipient must be accepted and/or enrolled in accredited college or university and working toward a 2 or 4 year bachelor, associate, or other degrees. The HAA will be awarding the scholarships annually and winners can only be awarded once.

The James K. Smith scholarship honors Jim Smith. Jim began with Niles Haunted House in 1988 and later served on the board of directors of Niles Haunted House and was a founding member of the International Association of Haunted Attractions, the predecessor of HAA and served on the board of that organization for over 20 years.

During his 20 plus years on the IAHA Board of Directors, he was a driving force behind the industry’s first safety program, Certified Haunted Attraction Operator Safety Program (C.H.A.O.S.), and the National Public Relations Campaign that benefited Haunted Houses around the country.

The Joe Thaler scholarship honors Joe Thaler who has produced trade shows for over 45 years. Throughout his career, Joe has been responsible for over 450 shows in 20 different industries and on 3 separate continents.

Thirty-five years ago, Joe founded the “Halloween, Costume, and Party Show”, from which the current “Halloween and Attractions” show emerged.

The scholarships will award $1000 each to the successful candidates. Applications may be submitted via an electronic form by clicking the button below.


Applications must be received by May 15, 2018 and accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the owner or director of a HAA member above the Associate member level. Applicants are also required to submit at least a 300 word essay describing how their involvement with the haunted attraction industry has enhanced their life.

The Scholarship Selection Committee will announce the winners at the Midwest Haunters Convention, May 27, 2018, and the funds will be awarded for the fall 2018 semester.