Attending a convention :
when a dream comes true On November 8, 2012, I randomly purchased all three seasons of the
Beauty and the Beast series, a show I didn’t know at all.
It was the beginning of a great passion that deeply moved my heart and has
never abated since.
I can say that I devoured every episode in record time.
But it still wasn’t enough. Such a dream couldn’t stop there. I needed
more. That was why I began to search the Internet.
I had never been a fan of anything, I even ignored the existence of
fandoms and fan fiction.
The first site I found was Annik’s French one, “La Belle et la Bête“,
hosted by batbland.com. The site mentioned a French Yahoo discussion group,
“Dans Les Tunnels” (In the Tunnels). I became a member on February 10,
2013. That was when and how I really set foot in BatB fandom, and
discovered a very important, reassuring thing: I was not alone! There were
people like me, who felt the same way, who would understand me.
I became acquainted with Claire, a Frenchwoman like me, and with her help
I began to explore the various websites about the show.
I felt a bit lost in the beginning, but I found a veritable goldmine, from
batbland.com to BBTV, via CABB, the facebook pages (I had joined FB in
December 2012), and many other sites, each as interesting as the next.
Hours and hours of happiness…
I knew no one else in fandom. With Claire’s help I made my first BatB
friends on Facebook. They knew little about me, and yet they opened their
arms wide to me. Let me thank all of you for accepting me among you with
such kindness. In this I recognize the spirit of the Tunnels.
Conventions? I didn’t know they existed either. I found out about them
along with everything else in the Beauty and the Beast fandom.
As soon as last year, I envied the fans who had been able to register for
the Cleveland convention. I followed that convention’s facebook page with
much interest. I wished I could have gone, but there was no escaping work
at that time of year.
Each year, July is our busiest month. Only in 2014 did different
circumstances enable me to take an early summer break. So, I made that
leap of faith.
Going to the USA was a big adventure for me! It was going to be my first
I was a “Newbie“: a word both magical and troubling. I was stressed out at
the thought of embarking on this adventure, as I was unable to picture how
things were going to unfold. Worse, my English hardly seemed sufficient,
and I feared I would not be able to communicate well enough with others.
Isn’t dialogue and the sharing of emotions the most important thing?
I knew a few people via the Internet: those who had been kind enough to
add me as a Facebook friend, and a few others (such as Linda S. and Kari)
with whom I take part in the Tuesday European chat (which is an afternoon
chat for Americans, an evening chat for us Europeans). I was looking
forward to meeting them “in the flesh”.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
I landed on Wednesday afternoon at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. I
wasn’t sure yet whether it all was real or only a dream!
Upon my arrival at our hotel in Bloomington, I met the first few fans who
were setting up the Dealers’ Room and Art Room. I was happily reunited
with Claire; I had a warm welcome from her, JoAnn, Carole, SandyX,
Michelle, Linda S, Rosemarie, and others. I immediately felt at ease and
I put my luggage away in the room I was about to share with my kind
roomies: our Con Chair J’Ecris, Winter (Winterose), and Claire. I had
begun to feel badly jetlagged, so I took a nap. Ah! To sleep!
In the evening, we all had dinner together at the Italian restaurant
within the hotel building.
I went to sleep early.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
We had the morning “off”. I took this opportunity to join the Con
organizers and other Con goers who had resumed setting up the convention
activities. Brenda, Jackie and several others were there.
As I came in, I noticed a clothes rack containing costumes from the show,
some of which were for sale.
I immediately noticed Vincent’s cloak. Linda S attested to me that it was
genuine! I was absolutely mesmerized and I came nearer to have a better
look. I was allowed to touch it and even... to try it on! Linda S took
pictures of me. What an extraordinary memory! I won’t forget it any time
soon! My only regret is that I didn’t have the presence of mind to pull
the hood up, as Bridget O’ Donnell did in Masques. I was too overwhelmed
to think clearly! I was intensely living in the present moment.
I was also able to admire one of Vincent's vests (the short, gray, padded
one), as well as a broad belt, and a sweater that Rose later won at the
auction. I was glad for her; she wanted it so dearly!
I also saw, close up, the magnificent dress that Catherine wore in
Temptation; I had always believed it white, whereas it is in fact a very
Later in the morning, J'Ecris's Mom, Ann, was kind enough to drive a few
of us to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. A second car joined us. Thus
we had our first overview of Minneapolis/Saint Paul. In our small group, I
became acquainted with Rose, Teresa, Mini, Skippy, and Kari. Claire was
also present. Rose was a newbie like me -- a young and adorable one! I
wonder if she wasn't the youngest person attending the convention. Teresa,
Mini, Skippy, Kari, and Claire also are lovable fans. In fact, each and
every person I have met during this convention week is lovable. No wonder!
All of them are Helpers.
We started our Zoo and Park tour with a carousel ride on a very
well-preserved carousel that turns a century old this year. The rest of
the afternoon was devoted to the zoo, and for some of us, the various
We returned to the hotel for the official registration that signaled the
proper beginning of the Convention.
The Con Virgins, Carol S., Rose and myself, were officially welcome.
JoAnn gave everyone a convention tote bag. It is a duffel bag bearing the
convention logo. It contains a Conzine (a big fat printed collection of
stories, poems, and beautiful drawings included those of Sandy Tew, a
well-known artist in fandom). Nice little gifts completed the contents of
the tote bag.
JoAnn gave me two badges: one bearing my name and the word Newbie, meant
to be worn on a lanyard, and a second one with a pin, bearing the words
“Haze of Happiness 2014”.
I was also given my convention T-shirt and an adorable stuffed animal, a
little pink and white lion.
As a Con Virgin, I also received a lovely garland of pink flowers and a
third badge (“Hug me, I’m a Con Virgin”) that I wore with pride.
Additionally, we Con Virgins earned an extra tote bag. What a nice
surprise! I was so pleased! It is another duffel bag, adorned on the front
with a beautiful rose. I hastened to find out its contents: two roses (one
red and one white), a card with Catherine and Vincent, stickers and other
Among all those gifts, I discovered a particularly precious one: a
numbered card with scraps from the very fabric that served to create
Vincent's cloak (or cloaks). Better still, my card bears the number 3 out
of 150, my lucky number! I am thankful to Peggy for creating these
Peggy G. is very talented. She created a replica of Vincent's cloak with
extra, unused fabric from the show's costume department. She is a very
nice person with whom I had several conversations. She was kind enough to
autograph one of her zines to me, Parallel Worlds WithinThe City, after
buying it from the Dealers’ Room! I was so proud and happy. Yet another
precious gift that I would bring back to France!
I went to put this treasure away in my room and came back to the
convention room to participate in activities and games.
The Dealers’ and Art Room and the silent auction were opened.
This Dealers’ and Art Room was a part of the convention room with large
tables displaying a variety of second-hand and new items for sale. There
you could find fanzines, books, calendars, T-shirts, stickers, mugs,
jigwas puzzles, keyring holders, videotapes, art prints, posters,
scrapbooks, miniature figures and other crafts; also conzines, badges,
bookmarks and tote bags from previous conventions.
I particularly admired a magnificent Vincent bust, sculpted by Peggy G’s
daughter and intended for the art auction.
As a conclusion to the evening, we all happily watched an episode of the
Friday, July 11, 2014
The convention officially began at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony. Pat L
and Winter gave a speech.
Rosemarie led an "icebreaker activity". It was a good idea to allow
participants to know each other better. Especiallyfor the newbies.
Followed various activities: BatB Pyramid (led by Pat L) Fanfic writing
panel (moderated by Teri, JoAnn, Carole), Tunnel Family Feud (Je, Winter).
The round tables were beautifully decorated at the center with various
legendary “creatures that never existed” according to the theme of the
On a large screen a drawing of Vincent next to a unicorn was projected on
a blue background.
At noon, Michelle announced that the next convention would take place in
Calgary, Canada. She also handed out folders containing a registration
form and information leaflets on Calgary.
At 12:30, we ate tasty sandwiches.
After that, the "Charity convention" was presented. Each year, the profits
made during the convention are donated to a charity. This year it was the
association "Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless." Our donation
amounted to $ 14,250.
Then there was the "Beast Bingo" (Judy, Karen). It is similar to the
French lotto but instead of numbers, the Beast Bingo has character,
episode, or place names from the series. At first I did not dare to play.
But Peggy explained it to me and then I took part. It was not so
complicated in English after all!
At 6:00 we had dinner which was a delicious Northern dinner buffet.
At 7:00, I happily joined the "costume and talent show."
Kathleen was disguised as a fairy, Rosemarie as Ariel (from Disney’s
Little Mermaid). Lisa as Vincent. It's amazing how much Lisa can make
herself look like Vincent. Her makeup is really successful. And clothes
are perfect. I had seen photos of her on the Internet (batbland). But in
flesh and blood, it was impressive.
And I was dressed as a unicorn.
We went on stage to have pictures taken.
The "Talent Show" began with songs from "Les Miserables" and the Disney
movie “Frozen” (or as we know it in French La Reine des Neiges, literally
The Snow Queen).
A pirateskits with Skippy, Michelle, Suzi, Kari, JoAnn and Teresa followed.
Then "a tribute to an American Classic Complete with fireworks display"
with Helene, Lisa / Vincent, Jackie, Brenda, Renee…
We laughed a lot. It was fun.
The evening ended with the showing of a French film, "Beauty and the Beast"
recently released in theaters. Claire then answered questions from the
audience since the film was in French without subtitles.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
The morning began with an "icebreaker" led by Rosemarie.
We then drew a portrait of Vincent under the guidance of Winter.
Followed "BatB Jeopardy" (Laura), "George RR Martin archive panel" (JoAnn),
making a Christmas ball (Laura) and "BatB Password" (Pat L).
A 1: 00, we ate a "Mexican lunch".
Then there was a "Beast Bingo" (Judy, Karen).
I did not participate in all the activities that took place during these
three days of the convention because I do not understand English very well
and I confess that I wasn’t able to follow much, especially when stories
were read. It will be for next time ... when I have progressed in English.
But I took advantage of manual activities like drawing Vincent, creating a
Christmas ball filled with paper in Winterfest candle colors or sticking
an image of the series on a tile.
Through Skype, some of us were able to talk with David Greenlee. I talked
to him, too! I was pretty intimidated, but he was very nice and even said
a few words in French. He is charming and fun.
We signed cards for people who could not attend the convention. The same
fans may have been watching us when the roaming webcam filmed our
activities. This was how my husband and my daughter could see me live.
They even took screenshots, as a souvenir!
A 4: 00, we went to "primp" for the banquet.
At 5: 30, there was a photo opportunity. It was the right time because we
were all "Sunday best." I had seen pictures of Bubba taken at previous
conventions. I was able to see and touch him for real and to take pictures
with him and friends!
The highlight of the day was the traditional "Summerfest banquet" that
began around 6:00.
The tables were exquisitely decorated: folded towels in form of roses;
little hearts in red and pink fabric were scattered here and there. I kept
both as a souvenir. In front of each plate there was a pretty white,
yellow, and orange Winterfest candle.
We solemnly lit each other’s candle in turn while someone was reading a
modified version of Father’s speech from Winterfest in the episode "Dead
of Winter". It was a moment of intense emotion. I was close to tears. I
looked at Rose, my lovely fellow Con Virgin. Like all of us, she was very
moved. You could see it on her face. With the last words, we all lifted
our candles. It was a time of sharing with the spirit of the tunnels
bathing us. At that moment, I really had the feeling of belonging to a
family, a community.
After the banquet, I did not dare join the folk dances with the others,
because I do not know the American dances. But I took the opportunity to
I loved the music and the orchestra.
This was followed by an auction of various items all very tempting, like
the bust of Vincent carved by Peggy’s daughter or one of Vincent’s
sweatshirts. I would have liked to win everything !!
I was lucky enough to win a commemorative collector coin of the series. I
was very happy.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The last day of the convention, alas.
From 9:00 to 10: 00 there was a workshop about the third series by Linda
From 10:00 to 12:30 there were various activities: "Creature trivia" (Rosemarie),
"BATB trivia" (Pat), "Art Auction”," "Dirty Minds game" (Brenda).
At 12:30, the meal (Afternoon tea).
At 1:30, the third "Beast Bingo" (Judy, Karen).
At 2:30, "What Attracts People to BATB". Rose and others spoke up. I would
have liked to, but I do not speak enough English.
Then came the closing ceremony and everyone held hands to form a large
circle. A very emotional moment. It felt like a dream. We, the Newbies,
were in the center of the circle. Then we joined the others, as Catherine
had done in the "Dead of Winter" episode. I really almost cried. This is
something I will never forget. This was followed by a round of warm hugs.
Yes, I'm really part of the family, the BatB community now. And I'm very
The flame was passed to Michelle, who will organize the next convention in
At 7:00 we were at the Guthrie Theatre to attend a performance of the
musical "My Fair Lady". I really liked it.
Monday, July 14, 2014
We left at 12:45. The visit began with the "Gangster Tour”, an interesting
journey through the criminal history of St. Paul. Our guide was dressed as
a gangster, Baby Face Nelson! This tour bus allowed us to admire the most
beautiful houses in Minneapolis / Saint Paul and see the "Minnehaha Falls"
in the Minnehaha Park.
The visit ended with a walk on the Mississippi River on a beautiful, very
typical boat (Padelford riverboat). I shared a table with Carol S, Peggy,
Anna and her lovely niece Elizabeth. We admired the scenery while chatting
and munching Mexican specialties.
We returned about 8: 00 pm. I was starving.
I decided to eat at the "Mall of America", the second largest US mall. The
stores there close late.
It is huge, with an amusement park (Nickelodeon Universe) and exhibits
I bought souvenirs of Minnesota for my family and friends and sent
I went to see the first "Rain Forest Café" opened in the "Mall of America"
at Bloomington. It is a very special restaurant with a beautiful and
original interior: a tropical forest with animals that move and "talk".
There is a similar one at Disneyland Paris.
I saw a giant Lego store with huge figures above, made of Lego. Inside, a
whole wall filled with Lego pieces of different shapes and colors. In
front of the store, there is a play area where children can have fun at
making objects in Lego.
There are many shops and restaurants in the mall. The little Frenchwoman
that I am explored everything that could be typically American, different.
I literate myself!
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
We visited grottoes and cellars that day.
First, Crystal Cave Spring Valley, Wisconsin.
I could have watched the old French film "Beauty and the Beast" by Jean
Cocteau as it was screened in the bus. But I chose to admire the
landscapes of Wisconsin instead. Great! This visit allowed me to discover
another American state. Actually these caves are not far from Minneapolis.
Once there, we formed three groups to visit, each identified by its color
(we wore a colorful bracelet).
There was a small shop at the entrance of the caves, where we could buy
beautiful things. Some fans bought warm sweaters because it was cold and
visiting the caves promised to be "refreshing" or “invigorating”!
Beautiful semi-precious stones were offered for sale in raw form or as
jewelry. We also could purchase plush creatures, keychains, pens and
others ... I took the opportunity to buy souvenirs for my family.
Then came the visit itself. We went down to explore the caves. I thought
of Father, Vincent and others. And I'm sure I was not the only one!
The luncheon was held outdoors in a tent, not far from the entrance caves.
It was fun and friendly.
Then we returned to Minneapolis / Saint Paul to visit the Wabasha Street
Caves , which are troglodyte caves that used to host a mushroom farm and
later a speakeasy during the prohibition era. It was an equally
Left early, returned early (around 4:00 pm). I turned to walk around "Mall
of America" until the meal. We met in a restaurant of the "Mall of
America" for dinner. It was very friendly and we had a good time.
When we returned, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Lisa was
wearing her Vincent costume again, and waiting at the entrance of the
hotel. We had the opportunity to take photos.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Some participants had already left, but I had the joy of meeting for
breakfast, some people of the Convention. It warmed my heart to share a
meal with them. I had the impression that the Convention was prolonged a
Claire did not leave until the afternoon. So we went to visit the Star
Trek exhibition in the "Mall of America" and to eat there with J’E and
In the late afternoon, I returned to the "Mall of America" to see the
movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" in a large multiplex. I then
strolled throughout the mall and I took many photos.
The following night, I slept alone at the hotel. The room was very empty
without my roomies. There was nobody from the convention at the hotel. I
was the last one.
Thursday, July 17,2014
I left Minneapolis with a mind full of unforgettable memories.
I spent four more days in New York City prior to flying back to France; I
visited Central Park, and went to find our special bench.
I have lived to the fullest each of these wonderful days of sharing, and
met many lovable, warm people with whom I was able to talk a little
despite my basic English. I cannot list all of your names, since there are
too many of you, and I apologize for it. Many thanks for your patience,
your kindness, and the efforts you made to listen to me and in turn speak
slowly so that I might understand you. Thank you for making me feel
comfortable and at home among you.
I knew I was going to meet many writers whose names I kept seeing on fan
fiction websites. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read many stories
yet, because my English is inadequate; it takes me a lot of time to
attempt to translate a story into French.
I had the pleasure of conversing with Teri, a delightful person, known and
appreciated in fandom for her many stories; and also - as mentioned before
- with Peggy G, a longtime fan who is also the author of many stories and
I discovered the existence of, and became acquainted with, the group of
fans that call themselves the “Chesapeake Helpers’ Society for Beauty and
the Beast”; I will carefully keep their lovely calling card, which is
adorned with the picture of a rose and crystal.
I brought home a priceless gift from Winter, a small piece of fandom: a
tiny green bench created by Chan. Even though I wasn’t lucky enough to
meet Chan, I harbour a vast admiration for her talent and creative genius.
Thank you, Winter, for putting your trust in me when you gave me this
little bench. I will take great care of it.
I bought BatB keepsakes, which will complete my collection, my "little
treasures chamber." Sure, my suitcase was much heavier when I went back!
Our hotel was very well chosen: comfortable and pleasant, well situated
right across from the giant “Mall of America”. The rooms were large enough,
breakfast was delicious, and the hotel contained a large and beautiful
swimming pool area.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to organizing and hosting
this convention, enabling me to live my dream, which was to meet my BatB
family and immerse myself into the magical universe of the show.
This convention was a true success. Thank you, J’Ecris !