Why I’m (Remove Not) Attending Brony-Fest/Animation Celebration
I just got back from an hour and a half conversation with Amanda Wooley, Animation Celebration’s owner with animation credits to her name, at her home, and Richard Leon the Assistant Director. I now know a lot more that I had no idea I was going to learn. And before I get to that, I’m going to note something important: People don’t get removed from a convention without GOOD reason, especially not within weeks of the event. Check Animation Celebration’s Facebook page for more on that. I don’t want to name names, because I just don’t do that, but it won’t take you long to find that name and then you should wonder: WHAT did these guys do? Hrm.. Are these guys involved with any other conventions here in the Texas area and who are they? Yeah, I’d especially check into them if they want to do work for you and not take them at their word.
Now, on to the rest, for my Furry friends, especially my convention friends, take the olive branch. They have new people who know what to do and are trying to mend the rifts opened by bad advice and rumors. Furries ARE indeed welcome and so are any other groups of people you may have heard rumors about. Keep in mind, this is a family convention that does not allow adult content. There was a problem last year, the only problem at the convention, in which an individual in a fursuit did something inappropriate and was dealt with. (I remember hearing about the incident while we were there.) This did not reflect well to the staff, who are not accustomed to furries in general. I can fully understand that. It only takes one person to screw things up and others needing to protect themselves to not want to take that risk. This went as far as a certain individual advising staff to ban furries and REMOVE all of the pony vendors. Not just ask them to not bring the mature content, but REMOVE them entirely. From a PONY CONVENTION, where you kind of need vendors to help pay for things. This idea was obviously rejected and things are turning around, but yes, this is a convention aimed at bringing in families, families who likely have young children. Don’t take offense at a convention because it doesn’t have certain content, and I’ve seen people complaining about convention policies barring adult work before, so I know it happens.
I don’t consider myself a big important person, but I guess I was the only one to actually say something, because I didn’t like what I was hearing and wanted SOMEONE to say something. Please pass this along, especially to the area fans who would like to come and enjoy a good convention, because I am now attending again as a vendor. The dealer room IS sold out. They are selling plenty of tickets. They DO have Kevin Conroy and honestly, that’s awesome. I’d love to meet him and get a box set of SOMETHING signed. Yes, I expressed doubts on how they did it, but I know now. It just takes a very large investment, see comments below.
It’s shaping up to be a far better convention than it was last year. Most conventions are honestly not that great the first year. Stuff goes wrong, but it’s typically still fun and the next year they’ve learned so much they can put into play, so if you were put off by my initial post and end up going, please come and say hi to me and grab a button off my table. Mention you read it and gave it a chance.
I am now looking forward to the convention and seeing how it turns out and I will be actively promoting it, because hey, another local convention is quite awesome in my eyes, and while most of the staff I met were inexperienced, they were nice and have had a year and other conventions to learn from. I couldn’t imagine anyone abusing them, but they’ve also been bullied.
I know a lot of other things, but I’m not going to mention them to detract from this post, but if anyone tells you that Mrs. Wooley ‘s husband is not ill, that person is a liar. 🙁
I’ll post another review in April.
Update 3/14 PM: Spent an hour and a half chatting and have written up a new bit of information. There was a LOT. I’ll post it up as soon as I verify a name. 😀 All in all, I am now attending Animation Celebration and I’ll let you know why. It does have to do with what was posted earlier, the toxic elements were removed and ugh, they caused a LOT of problems, but are no longer affiliated with this convention. Sadly, they are affiliated with other conventions. Animation Celebration has been doing a vast amount of outreaching to turn around the rumors that were going around along with the events that I mention in my post that really got to me. Please see their Facebook page. I now know a lot of things that I had no idea needed to be known.
Update 3/14: Things have been happening and they are good things. See comments below. Apparently there’s been a little bit of a shakeup in the staff and I’m in contact with the convention now. (I don’t need to know who it was, just that the toxic elements have been removed.) There’s been an obvious shift for the better in how they’re doing things and I’m feeling better about it myself. I was offered my table fee back and a spot in another convention, but I really don’t want to leave a negative review up when things are changing drastically, so I’m looking at doing Animation Celebration to see if it’s improved.
I just wanted to take a moment to explain why it is I’m not doing Brony-fest/Animation Celebration, since I had planned to and never posted the initial review I made.
Here’s the thing, Brony-fest was put on by inexperienced people and I eagerly had a table at the first one. It had so many flaws, yet I didn’t write the review I initially planned to. I did NOT post that first year review, because I had high hopes for a much improved second year and the convention was poorly put together for the first one. Now, I’m going to write that review, starting with the problems with this convention.
Bizarre policies and rules, like… no photography, which landed it on a not recommended list on several sites I ran across. A convention that doesn’t let you take photos of people in costume who are usually there to get that kind of attention?
It was held over EASTER WEEKEND. I did not know that it was Easter weekend when I signed on, half a year before it opened, because it never occurred to me that a convention would hold itself over a HUGE family get-together weekend! It’s second only to Christmas! I was really angry a few months prior to it when I realized I was going to be at a convention instead of spending time with our family.
When we got there, everything was so horribly uncoordinated. We couldn’t find anybody who knew what was going on.
The vendor’s room was handled horribly. They threatened you with a $500 fee, which is still on the signup, if you did not show up at your table. There was a stipulation that you had to have a certain percentage of pony related merchandise, which few people actually adhered to. I did, because I’m a rule follower.
Because it was over Easter weekend, the turnout was really pitiful.
Lastly, I had a conversation with one of the staff members, who I’m not going to name, even though I know he’s still there. This conversation centered around Furries and his dislike of furries. (I was wearing a Furry Fiesta tshirt. Funny thing is, I had thought twice when I picked it up, recalling: Oh, some bronies are weird and really hate furries. Then I thought: Who care, it’s a con shirt I like to wear to conventions!) The shirt sparked the discussion and went to how they were competition for them. I shrugged it off, but kept it in mind.
Overall, it was a bad convention and if that was all I had to go on, I would not recommend it to anyone.
So you might ask, WHY did I sign up for the second year?
First, the people who attended were fine. They were nice and funny, all around a good group of people, so were the other vendors.
Second, staffs from several convention were there on the last day talking to the staff of Brony-fest and there was talk about how they were going to group together and make a better convention for next year. Because I HIGHLY respect the people they were talking to and have had good experiences at their convention, I had high hopes for their next convention, plus, the tables were cheap to encourage us to return.
Third, that staffer I mentioned earlier, well, he went on a tirade to me about how horrible this was. He hated it, he told me he wanted to make a name for himself after all the mistakes he’d made in his life. I said nothing, shrugged it off with the thought: Guess he’s going to have to learn to work with others for mutual benefit and make a better convention or go do another convention. Thing is, he just made his reputation to me and I won’t forget it. From how angry he was, I assumed he was going to just leave and thought: Well, that might improve the convention if they remove a person who hates some of the attendees, since Bronies ARE FURRIES without a doubt.
I paid for my table, eager to see the improvements the next year.
Fast forward to this year. I heard nothing. No communication from this convention and I was busy, so wasn’t following it, until I noted this mysterious new convention pop up, Animation Celebration. Apparently, Brony-fest renamed itself Animation Celebration. It had a video with footage from OTHER CONVENTIONS, not Anime Celebration, not Brony-fest. (Think it’s from our local comic-con in the Irving Convention center.) I wasn’t sure if this was the standard way for conventions to advertise themselves, but it just felt wrong. Using footage from OTHER conventions to promote yours?? Usually, they use footage from their own conventions and/or just show their guests.
Now these are things I heard about over the summer and from someone I respect at a recent convention I attended, another vendor.
Apparently, they do NOT want any furries at their convention. They hate furries. They have stated, they do NOT want Furries to attend. They spread rumors at A-kon concerning their ‘competition’ and got them removed from the convention. I KNOW the people who got kicked out and there is absolutely no way they would EVER have done anything to get themselves removed from a convention. This is wrong. I heard this several times following A-kon, but because I was kind of swamped with a bad computer, it got pushed to the back of my mind until I heard the full story.
NONONO. This is WRONG. This is NOT how you build a reputation for a good convention or a good convention staff.
I was absolutely livid after hearing everything. I can’t get a refund for my table, which just annoyed me. I sent them several emails over the last two weeks, requesting that my table be removed and that I’m not attending and requesting a refund, just because. Because I signed up for BRONY-FEST, NOT ANIMATION CELEBRATION. You people change the theme and don’t even BOTHER telling the vendors. That’s just… that just shows how bad this staff is at communication. As of today, I’ve heard nothing back and when I checked a couple of days ago, my table is still there.
I consider it rather greedy that they’re going to keep my money and resell the table. Not my usual experience if something comes up with a cancelled table.
In any case, I will be avoiding any conventions this group is running and advise others to avoid them. They are poorly run.
And that’s all I have to say about this.