Organizers of Fandom Fest are touting the benefits of the event’s new location: free parking, food court, easy access to a number of restaurants. But the pop culture convention’s new home in the abandoned Macy’s in Jefferson Mall took many attendees and vendors by surprise when they announced it on Monday — less than two weeks from opening day.
While it appears that Fandom Fest never formally announced that the event would take place at the Kentucky Expo Center, that’s the information that was circulating among some vendors and publications that cover pop culture conventions. But on Monday, the Expo Center took to Twitter to set the record straight:
We do not have a contract for FandomFest at our facility.
— Kentucky Expo Center (@kyexpocenter) July 17, 2017
Even fans from out of town were directed — and still are being directed — to stay at the Louisville Courtyard Marriott, just a 9-minute walk to the Expo Center and a full 14-minute drive to Jefferson Mall.
Louisville Redditers, some of whom are set to be vendors at the event, have taken to that forum to complain and have said that Fandom Fest’s social media manager has deleted any negative comments from their social media posts.
Co-organizer Myra Daniels told Insider that the 150,000-square-foot Macy’s storefront is significantly larger than the space they had last year at the Expo Center. She thinks people just assumed the con would return to the Expo Center this year, and that’s where the confusion began. Daniels said she informed vendors and attendees as soon as the venue was nailed down.
She declined to say where the con’s many celebrity guests were being housed except to say that they will be at hotels “throughout the city.” Celebrities attending the event include “Weird” Al Yankovic, Skeet Ulrich, a number of stars from “The Walking Dead,” voice actors from “Beauty and the Beast” and more.
Fandom Fest has seen its share of controversies over the years. One year, organizers failed to pick up “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” star John Barrowman at the airport, the con was vastly over capacity, and some fans were denied entry. At his panel, Barrowman urged unhappy fans to ask for a refund (note: the con has a strict “no-refund” policy). That same year, organizers failed to retrieve Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor from “Doctor Who,” from his hotel room for his panel, and he live-tweeted the abandonment while watching episode after episode of “CSI.”
By all accounts, last year’s con at the Expo Center was one of the better Fandom Fests.
A call to the general manager of the Jefferson Mall has not been returned. If Fandom Fest attendees are being encouraged to eat at the food court and restaurants in the mall, some typical con behavior might be in conflict with the mall’s “code of conduct,” including:
- Wearing clothing or lack of clothing that is likely to create a disturbance
- Flash mobs
- Engaging in noisy or boisterous activities
- Shouting, yelling, screaming, singing