M. Heitkemper

M. Heitkemper

Monday, July 31, 2017

FandomFest or FandomF***Up? Depends on who you ask.

Alright, I attended FandomFest, in Louisville, KY over this past weekend.  I’ve been to this show a few other times in previous years, but this was my first time setting up a table at the show to sell my work.  I reserved the table way back in January, so I’ve been looking forward to attending it all year.  It’s usually a great show with a lot of traffic and a lot of great talent and celebrities attending.  However, as luck would have it, this year was going to be a little different.

The Convention Center in downtown Louisville is where the show is normally held.  But since the building is currently being extensively remodeled, the show was moving out to the Fair and Expo Center which is outside of town, but a much larger venue.  Sign me up, right?  Well, about two weeks before the show, I received my vendor information packet.  About four days later, I finally opened it to find out that the show was now going to be held even further out of town at the old Macy’s building connected to the Jefferson Mall. At this point, I was a little disappointed about the venue, but I was still looking forward to the show.  Even with all the turmoil stirring on social media about the shows move and canceling guests (look it up if you're curious), I wanted to make the best of it.

 I arrived on Thursday for early setup to kind of feel the place out.  The building was as bad as one could imagine a run-down Macy’s store would be.  The floors needed a vacuum run over them, the bathrooms were less than adequate to be honest, and on the day of setup the air conditioning wasn’t even on.  They’d put all of us creators, artists and writers on the second floor of the store.  I was in the "Misses" department.  It’s a good thing there was an escalator, otherwise I don’t know how many guests would have made it up to see us.

On Friday the show was off to a slow start, but people came through the doors and before long the place was crawling with plenty of fandom seeking patrons.  Was it the crowd size we expected?  That’s hard to say, but fans were everywhere, and many were at my table buying books.  It was a great time just meeting the fans and telling them about what I was working on.  Freedom Fighter was a big hit with the comic book fans, but my best seller all weekend was my children’s book, The Dinosaur Farm.  A lot of parents and grandparents found the idea for the book amusing and picked it up for their little ones.  A couple kids sat right there on the floor and started reading it while I spoke with their parents.  I ended up coming out okay on sales by the end of the show on Sunday.  Nothing to write home about, but it covered the cost of my table and I had a little left over (most of which I spent at the show on goodies!)  

I asked a lot of the patrons what they thought of the venue; some didn't care for it, but most didn't seem to mind.  One commented that since most of the Macy's shelving and counters were still in the store and in use for the show, it flet like one giant "Nerd Store."  I guess it kind of was.  

I met a lot of great talent at the show, and made a ton of connections too.  I only hoped that they ended up doing as well as I did.  Unfortunately, after speaking with several, some took a loss.  A couple drove in from Florida, and two artists I met drove in from Texas to do this show, so they all had travel and lodging costs to figure in.  I knew as well as they all did that these shows can go either way when it comes to making money.  But I really feel like FandomFest dropped the ball on this one.  They had advertised all year long that the show would be at the Fair and Expo center, but at the last second they told us that they couldn’t come to terms with the contract for that venue.  Shouldn’t that contract have been finalized months ago?  I don’t know what really happened, and they’re being kind of vague with the explanations.  Would the turnout have been better at the other venue?  Did the change of venue have anything to do with all the celebrities backing out?  Would I have sold more books sitting on the first floor of the show?  Probably a bunch of questions we won’t get clear answers to.  All I know is what I saw: A lot of great talented creators making a tough situation work for them and doing their best to enjoy themselves and entertain the fans at the same time.  Well done to all the creators and celebrities that did attend!  It was a pleasure meeting and connecting with you, and I hope that we cross paths again and in better circumstances. 

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