The Vampire Ball is exactly what it sounds like

Hunt for vampires and shop for horrific wares

Shannon McCabe takes her vampire role seriously.

Shannon McCabe takes her vampire role seriously.

Photo by karlos rene ayala

Check out Shannon McCabe’s ninth annual Vampire Ball at 8 p.m. at California Automobile Museum on Saturday, October 28. Tickets are $25-$65. For more information go to

“Have you ever been served by a vampire before?” Shannon McCabe asks me with a sly grin on her face.

I pause. “No. This is a first.”

We are sitting at McCabe’s dining room table at her home. I fumble with the butter knife as I attempt to portion myself a modest dab of cheese from the serving tray that one of her vampire servants is holding. I’m feeling underdressed. McCabe and her two vampires look elegant. I’m in the same shirt and shorts I wear to every interview.

“Thank you,” I say to the vampire servant. She leaves. No response.

When I agreed to interview McCabe to talk about her annual Vampire’s Ball, which will be celebrating its ninth year this Halloween weekend, I didn’t imagine I would come face-to-face with actual vampires. Here they are, and they’re friendly, relatively speaking.

McCabe is apparently one, too. Unlike the two other women, she doesn’t have vampire teeth, though at one point she tells me she’s 1,000 years old.

The Vampire’s Ball has evolved into one of the biggest Halloween parties in Sacramento. Part of the proceeds benefit children at UC Davis and Shriners Hospitals for Children. Currently at the California Automobile Museum, it draws roughly 1,000 people, most of whom are dressed as vampires, or are vampires. There will be music, dancing, cocktails and vampire-themed everything.

A stage show with an elaborate plot changes every year. This time, a coven of witches attempt to take down Klaus Mikaelson, the original vampire. “He’s the one who made everybody,” McCabe says.

Other characters, stories and horror-themed shopping aren’t confined to the stage. Part of the fun is finding it sprinkled throughout the museum.

“It’s not just dancing in front of the DJ all night,” McCabe says. “You truly couldn’t experience everything that we have to offer. There’s no way. It’s ongoing, all over the place, all the time.”

McCabe got the idea for the party from vampire-themed wine. The first year, she held it at Vega’s with a Twilight theme, and 120 attendees came. For the next two years, she moved the ball to the Crescent Club (now Graciano’s) and packed the place with 400 people. Demand grew and, for the next three years, McCabe threw the event at the Placer County fairgrounds, bringing roughly 700 people each time.

Three years ago, she decided to migrate the party to the California Automobile Museum because it became challenging to manage such a large space at the fairgrounds. Interest is so high now, she doesn’t even seem stressed about selling out the 1,000-person capacity.

The vampire servants return with Bloody Marys. I take mine reluctantly, not certain that they were made with tomato juice.

Klaus, the original vampire, also enters and takes a seat at the table. His real name is Jason King, and he’s dressed in business casual with the smug demeanor of a Silicon Valley tech millionaire.

His presence prompts McCabe to bring up the witches’ desire to kill Klaus.

“This epic battle has been long overdue,” McCabe says. “I really don’t think they have a chance. I’m also very biased. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out on the stage show. He’s been around for thousands of years. It’s not going to be very easy to kill this guy.”

We all stare at Klaus, nursing his Bloody Mary.

“I’m not concerned in the least,” he says.