SweatFest to SepticFest, a FandomFest Retrospective

The first Fandom Fest I ever went to was in 2011. For all I know, it was the first one. We who survived it now refer to it as SweatFest. The authors were — literally — put in the sauna. Hot as hell. All the authors who brought chocolate to tempt potential buyers to their tables had chocolate soup. At least one author had to go home, because her medicine’s cold pack was no match for the intense, damp heat of our location. But I got a good story out of it.

Every year after that, it was some damn thing or other. The Literary Track wasn’t on the app. Or the information was wrong, and people who wanted to attend the panels couldn’t find them. Even last year, which was damned near perfect, there was an $8 charge for parking. Or, indeed, for bringing somebody and dropping them off.

This year? This year, the venue was changed about two weeks before the event. We were expecting to be in the beautiful fairgrounds near the airport, where we were last year. We were moved to — wait for it — an abandoned Macy’s store in a mall on the outskirts of Louisville. Over half the celebrities pulled out; I mean, would you want to put “abandoned Macy’s store” on your resume of personal appearances?

Oh, did you reserve a room near the fairgrounds and fly in for the event to find you have to find a way to some damn mall? Sucks to be you. Oh, did you pay big bucks for your whole family to have a photo op with your favorite actor/actress? Sorry, no refunds. Right. No refunds.

They DID get the air conditioning working the night before the event opened. Also: got the water turned on. Cleaned the bathrooms? Eh, not so much. Not before, not during, and probably not after.

HOWEVER, Stephen Zimmer, who has nothing whatsoever to do with the event itself but runs the Literary Track of it, not only had all his ducks in a row, he kept them in a row, even when the event disorganizers tossed curve balls at them. He made sure we had specified places for our panels and that we and any interested attendees all knew where those were. So, even though we weren’t in rooms, but were in open areas of the store, we knew where we were. Even though the disorganizers provided no covers for the raw plywood tables, we had panels, by God, and people came, and we all enjoyed them.

In fact, all of us who showed up and stayed had a blast. We were all in it together, and there was a sense of camaraderie that energized us all.

And the costumes were great! People come to some events just for the cosplay, which means they dress up like recognizable people/characters and walk around having their pictures taken. Some people just throw something together, and that’s fun. Some people work very hard to achieve their look, and that’s amazing.

First, here’s a purty picture of what the mall outside the Hell-pit looked like. Bee-you-tee-ful. Spotlessly clean, with bathrooms that worked and ran clear water and a SUPER food court.

The first gallery shows some costumes. The second shows some vehicles.

I saved my favorite cosplay for last. Did I chase this guy down the hall so I could get a photo? You’d better believe it!

SO happy!

Will we ever do Fandom Fest again?

I doubt it. Srsly.

I’m posting today at Fatal Foodies about a pretty good mess Charlie made for lunch.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Who would your main character chase down the hall for a picture?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “SweatFest to SepticFest, a FandomFest Retrospective

  1. Dan Antion

    August 8, 2017 at 7:10am

    I like the spirit contained in “…But I got a good story out of it.” However, it sounds like these people will do anything to save a buck. I doubt I’d go back.

    Sorry to have been MIA-ish this weekend. Your blog was very difficult to work with on my phone, and my phone is what I had.

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    • Dan Antion

      August 8, 2017 at 7:11am

      I should have been clear, it wasn’t that your blog is a problem, WordPress on my phone is a problem. I know you know that, but others might not. Your blog is never a problem 🙂

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        Marian Allen

        August 8, 2017 at 8:51am

        Sometimes my blog is a problem for ME, so I wasn’t surprised. 😉

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 8, 2017 at 8:50am

      The only reason we ever went back was because Stephen Zimmer was in charge of the literary track, and he’s extraordinarily good people. The best thing, for a lot of people, to come out of Fandom Fest was Stephen’s dream — which he promptly made a reality — of putting on a really GOOD festival. That dream became Imaginarium, which is TOTALLY AWESOME!

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  2. Carol Preflatish

    August 8, 2017 at 8:18am

    I remember that first Fandom Fest. The only good thing for me was that I met my first publisher there. I went to one more after that and had a horrible experience and have never gone back, and never will. At least its good to hear that the literary track went well again this year. Stephen Zimmer always does a great job with that.

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    • Author
  3. Kat French

    August 8, 2017 at 12:41pm

    I had a signing maybe a year ago at the collectibles store owned by the “disorganizers.” They seemed like nice enough people, but JEEZ. The whole “no refunds, even though we advertised celebrities for whom we didn’t bother to book flights or accommodations, and advertised a venue we never had a contracted” thing – I’m sorry, that’s just unconscionable. I’m bummed I was out of town and couldn’t come out for the lit track and to help at the PB booth. But … yeah. I can’t really say I’m sorry I missed it.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 8, 2017 at 1:19pm

      If I had planned my vacation around it, spent money on plane fare, hotel, celebrity experience, and vendors who backed out, or if I were a vendor who spent major bucks for a booth in expectation of ten times as many attendees as there were, I do believe I would have been … er … rather cross. It would have been more funner with the Kat there. 🙂

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  4. joey

    August 8, 2017 at 1:26pm

    Potatoes with beans x2 looks good 🙂

    I got hot just readin that first paragraph. Got that tingly feeling that comes before the sweat, got a lil light-headed… no thank you, Kentucky humidity, no thank you.
    Abandoned department store of any sort just doesn’t sound appealing at all. After that change in venue, I’da been ticked, too.

    Alice Cooper is rad — I really had a good look, made me feel like a kid again 😉 Spidey is also fantastic. I’m not a Spiderman kinda girl, but he captured that pose perfectly!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 8, 2017 at 1:42pm

      Amen to all that! That Alice was really fantastic. I’m old enough to have gone to two or three Alice concerts, so I’ve seen him in person, and this guy would have fooled me, if I hadn’t gotten close enough to see his features through the makeup. It was a trip, man! I was impressed with Spidey’s costume; when he struck that pose, it gave me a chill, like a comic book just came to life!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 8, 2017 at 5:12pm

      It was actually kind of cool — or would have been, if space had been assigned instead of first-come, first-serve, and if the bathrooms had been clean and kept clean. As it was, it was like, “Hey, gang! Let’s put on a show right here, in the mouth of Hell!”

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