Fan Days IV in Fort Worth, Texas was an amazing weekend, made even better by the fantastic people who were present and the plethora of new friends we made.
Jedi News were represented by the core team of James Burns (also there on ForceCast Collectors Edition and Star Wars Insider duty) myself (also on Star Wars Insider duty) and Adam Lamping (representing the great country of Canada). James and myself arrived at Fort Worth on Thursday afternoon and before we’d even started our Star Wars adventure we managed to get hopelessly lost trying to find a WalMart to buy supplies. Believe me, 25 hours awake and driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time are NOT a good mix. We returned to the Aloft and found Eric Geller was in the room opposite, so the night finished with a chat with the Force.net’s resident social media guru and all-round good guy (and quite possible James’s long-lost offspring, at least according to Catherine Taber).
After a very pleasant breakfast with James, Eric and Stephen Sansweet, James departed to the convention centre to set up the silent auction that he was overseeing, leaving me to a very much needed nap and then a drive out to collect Adam from the airport. We chilled out on the afternoon, meeting Cat ‘Padme Amidala’ Taber at the bar (a Guiness girl, very cool, who thought I looked like Cameron from Ferris Buellers Day Off) and meeting the guests as they started to arrive at the Aloft. Jason Sobal, Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, Jovial Jay Shepherd and Dan Curto to name just a few were arriving at the hotel, and we had the chance to meet many of them for the first time and swap stories. It was a late night (5pm through to 1am), but in regards to the bar (and the pool table) the real fun was still yet to come
Saturday arrived, and after a rejuvenating shower and breakfast bar we found the shuttle to the convention centre and on arrival grabbed our media passes and hit the floor. Our Facebook page shows in detail a batch of images from the weekend, including the live ForceCast featuring Jimmy Mac, Stephen Sansweet, Ashley Eckstein, Ernie Cline, JC Reifenburg, Tom Kane and Stephen Stanton being inducted into the 501st and receiving his Scout Trooper armour.
Walking the floor we met a huge number of familiar faces from fandom, including Randy Martinez, Denise Vasquez, Robert Hendkson, Russell Walks (cheers for the frames of pool!) and Terrie and Tom Hodges. As ever there were row after row of Star Wars goodies to check out, and check them out we did, taking in Stephen Stantons free signing table, which raised well north of $1000 for the Princess Leah cause, the Hughes the Force table, ably manned by JC, Victoria and the gang and numerous others. We had the chance to say hi to Aaron Allston, someone I’ve interviewed three times now, swapped stories with the brilliant Joe Mignano and Ashley Kalfas (cheers for the interview guys, really looking forward to hearing what you’ve done with The Mild Bunch), Riley and Bethany Blanton and Aaron Goins. We said hi to the gang from the Sarlacc Pit podcast, shook hands and kissed babies. And getting to meet Chris Gereke for the second time and Tony DeBenedetto for the first was a genuine pleasure – great guys both.
Hughes the Force has generated a lot of buzz lately, and with a Hollywood premier going down so well last week it brought a high level of expectation to Texas. Thankfully it delivered in spades, tickling the crowds funnybone and hitting all the right marks. With the team in attendance and Victoria there in her Slave Leia costume it led to a cool Q&A, moderated by Steve Sansweet, and then on to the Silent Auction. There were some truly awesome pieces in the selection (pre-release Del Rey copy of Choices of One anyone?) and the auction went without a hitch, thanks top some hard work by James, Dustin Roberts and the auction team.
The evening was a mixture of schmoozing, chatting (a fascinating chat with Stephen Stanton’s team of Rick, Dutch and Kathy) and racks of pool with Russell Walks, Adam and many other folks. Oh, and plenty of Corona and Land Shark (and a bit of tequila thrown in), all making for a late night, a sore head and a conversation with Dan Curto that I’m certain made no sense whatsoever.
Sunday was a much more sedate day compared to Saturday, starting later in the morning and running at a slower pace. We passed by the palatial ForceCast booth, where we gave the team some assistance with the guests on the show and I chatted with Jimmy and Jason in my guise as a contributor to the Star Wars Insider. Hitting the show floor again we teamed up with Curto, Jovial Jay and Teresa ‘Ice Cold Penguin’ Delgado to mooch about a bit (yes Terrie Hodges, I said mooch!) and grab some bargains, the best of which was the Super Collectors Wish Book 3rd Edition for a dollar! We had chance to catch up with everyone, and say goodbye to folks who were jetting out that evening, and after a ride back to the hotel we all convoyed out for the evening meal where (deep breath) myself, James, Adam, Chef Vader, Scott, Curto, Jimmy Mac, Jovial Jay, Steve Sansweet, Spencer Brinkerhoff, Joe Corroney, Chris Gereke, Tony Debenedetto, Tom and Terrie Hodges all enjoyed a fantastic meal at a looong table…and no, it wasn’t Spencer’s birthday, so the large slabs of ice cream were a bonus.
And apparently Tom Hodges thinks I look like the Dad from Phineas and Ferb. And so did everyone else…
For the rest of the evening I turned into Fast Eddie Felson with an English accent, as my usually slow start racked up into a 4-0 win over Joe Corroney and a 90 second scratch game against Jovial Jay. As Jay said, I must be the only person to have a scratch game like that and apologise for it. My promise of a Pool Tournament at Celebration 6 has to happen now.
You’ll read more in-depth reviews of the event here on Jedi News and in the other excellent websites that were present, and that’s fine, but I wanted to give a flavour of the weekend. I made some great new friends, shared jokes and stories with people I’ve followed online for many years and hopefully helped to open some new doors for this site, of which I am very proud to be a part of. For those of you ever wondering whether or not to visit a Fan Days in the future I can only say this – do it, or regret it, it was a blast!