PRE-CON APPETIZERS: Pat & friends -- Laura Beth



MY FIRST CON - Pat's report and photos

Where to begin? 

A little over a year ago, I entered the world of Beauty and the Beast fandom. Fell into it, more aptly stated. I attended my first Winterfest. I posted on BBTV yahoo. I participated in the Sunday episode chat. Those wily ladies enticed me to sign up for the con. Good heavens! What had I gotten myself into? 

I am an old fan of Beauty and the Beast. By that I mean, I watched the show when it originally aired. But I was very new to fandom, and new to the con (any con, actually). Those new to the con get special attention, even a category all their own: con virgins. Having no idea what to expect, I set off on the six hour drive to Cleveland, OH.  

I arrived shortly after 1 PM, experiencing only a little rain, and not until about noon. My room was not ready, so they took my bag to storage, and I turned and looked around the lobby. A beautiful poster of B&B stood against the far wall of a lounging area, where several people were gathered. This must be them. Onward I went. One thing about being a first-timer: you stick out from the group, because most people all know each other from previous cons. I was warmly welcomed (translated: hugged) by many. One person in particular, Sheila, welcomed me and I was told she was the con virgin wrangler. While I didnít realize I needed wrangling, it was nice to know that someone was appointed to look out for us first-timers. 

We were all waiting for rooms to become available. More and more people arrived. More and more hugs were given. The loving energy in the room was something to be experienced. Iíve never been to any conference remotely resembling it.  

I registered for the meeting and got my con bag. Got checked into my room (finally!) but left shortly to go to dinner with a group who kindly included me. 

I was looking forward to the con to begin to match faces to screen names (and voices) of the people with whom I had been posting and chatting with in the various venues of fandom. Very few ever matched my imagination (for some reason, I always get hair color wrong!). How wonderful for an extravert like me to meet finally with those I had been conversing with over the year. But I had no other expectations of the con, as I had never been to one. I was warned that they were fun; expect little sleep; and they were addicting. They need to add one more warning: brings lots of money! 

So what was the con? Many different sessions throughout the day. Some sessions were devoted to crafts; some were imaginative scenarios if fans had their way (wedding shower; baby shower); others were games. There was also a talent show. Such creativity in this group: many sang, others lip-synched in costumes; others did skits. There was also a session on how to make tunnel clothes, and then a parade of those wearing tunnel clothes. 

There is a place called The Dealerís Room. This is why you need to bring plenty of money. Conzines abound; t-shirts from past cons are offered; jewelry is available; all sorts of posters, calendars, books, and other media are available. Be forewarned: JoAnnís husband Larry sits at the desk to collect your money. He also points out other stuff you should buy.í Itís for charity,í he says. Too many trips later, I have some highly recommended conzines to start my journey with that reading material, some reference books on the show, some paperback books, some calendars with lovely pictures, jewelry, and the coolest leather-sleeved wool crew jacket with Beauty and the Beast embroidered on the back. 

Have I mentioned you need money? There is an art auction. I perused the art room to see all of the selections. Any time more than one person bids on the same piece, it goes to auction. I actually got two pieces on which no one else bid. During the auction, I bid and won a third art piece. Have to figure where these will go. Thatís a problem for another day. 

I love playing Beast Bingo. Thatís a game where the money you pay ($1 per game) goes to the charity being supported by the con. This, too, is an element that I am totally unfamiliar with at any other meeting I have attended. But it is part of the tunnel philosophy: giving help to others. And the curious thing that happened: I won three times!   I donít have much luck. The only other thing I have ever won was a small telescope from the Marathon gas station, and that was because we stuffed the box going and coming from high school as we walked past it daily. I now have started my collection of stuffed lions, and have a few other trinkets as a result!  

I also won a raffle of a basket filled with goodies. Color me astounded! 

We heard a person speak from the SoJourner House, the charity for the con. Most incredible was the story of the 85 year old woman who had been married for at least 50 years, whose abuse had started on her honeymoon. She only now was finally able to leave, and has begun to speak out for others to learn from her sad story. I am amazed and proud at how much was raised in a weekend. I look forward to hearing the final number. 

The banquet was lovely. Vincent was there (Yea, Lisa!). Nothing like dressing up a bit to have a good meal. Which leads me to discussing the table center pieces. The room for the three days had circular tables. Every day, a new center piece. Very creative and attractive. At the auction, these also were included. I picked up two of them to help decorate all my other goodies! 

We were fortunate to have a special guest as part of the con: David Greenlee, who played Mouse. He spoke, and answered questions, in two different sessions. He also signed autographs, took pictures, and even just hung around with folks talking. A delightful person, with lots of good stories to tell. 

So this is my recollection of the con proper. There were three add-ons as well. I signed up for them all, figuring I may never make it back to Cleveland, so I may as well do it up right the first time! 

On Thursday, we went on a tour of the city, and specifically, went to the Soldier and Sailors Monument which happened to have underneath it a series of tunnels used in the Civil War to store armaments. They opened it up for us to see, and it was neat! Several ghosts apparently reside there, and some may have been lucky enough to photograph them. Our guide warned us not to be concerned if our cameras quit working; they would begin working again once we left. Sure enough, it happened to some in the group! We then went on a lunch cruise on the river. Very enjoyable, and great weather for it. 

On Monday, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wow. Great stuff, much too much to see properly in one day. A special exhibit was devoted to the Rolling Stones. I was transported back to my slightly younger years! Our generation has the best music! 

On Tuesday, we went to the Stan Hewit House and Gardens. The man who owned it, owned the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. A 65 room mansion, surrounded by lovely gardens. This was probably the hottest day, but it was still a nice visit. I was leaving from there a bit earlier than the group to start the drive home, and as I was leaving, the rain was starting and I noticed the bus arriving early to pick up the group. It rained quit hard for a good start of my drive back. But after that, it cleared up, and the trip home was uneventful. 

I had a great time. Such a good time, that I signed up for next year and am serving on the planning committee (wait, how did that happen?). It is obvious that a con takes a group effort to pull off. Laura and her con committee did a fantastic job. Thank you for all the work and time spent in creating this fun experience! 

This is something to be experienced for yourself. If you have thought about it, and not yet done it, by all means go! Donít put it off. Such a positive experience shouldnít be postponed or missed. Life is too short. And Love is Everything!

Pat - July 24, 2013

mouse over for caption - click to enlarge

banquet Talent Show: Chesapeake Talent Show: Ladies in Red

Tunnel Togs Talent Show: Vicky and Amber Talent Show: Kathleen

Cleveland Cruise R & R HallR&R Hall of Fame Elvis

Soldier Sailor Monument Soldier Sailor Tunnels 

Stan Hewit Front Stan Hewit English Garden Stan Hewit Lion


JE's photos

to Cleveland con page


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