Some thoughts: Phoenix Fan Fest 2016

phoenix fan fest
This was the third year for the Phoenix Fan Fest show put on by the same people that do the Phoenix Comicon near the beginning of summer. Phoenix Fan Fest was previously held at the University of Phoenix stadium (also home of the NFL team Arizona Cardinals) in Glendale Arizona. This was the first year it was held in downtown Phoenix AZ, followed by numerous other changes for the show. Some for better, and some I say the show can probably do without for the years ahead.

Here are some things that were changed and some thoughts.

Month:  I know some things change for the better but I had mixed feelings about this one, the past 2 years the show was held on a weekend in December, as this year it was in October. The general consensus was December seemed to be a little better for the event. Yes it was close to Christmas and the new years, but it also made people buy more, and knew what they had left as in money wise from the shopping they may have already finished. The show was almost a last chance to pickup geek-ified fun unique pieces for friends and family. I loved seeing all the tables decked out with Christmas decorations and the atmosphere was different as well.


Duration: Previous years the show was two and a half days, with a said preview night on a Friday and the show going through till Sunday. This year the show was only two days Saturday and Sunday, I think it was for the better, as the show being smaller than its summer counterpart that is four days. If you wanted to see all there was to see, you can get it all done on the preview night, and didn’t need to return if you didn’t want to. Making the move to drop a preview night was beneficial as it was not needed for this type of show.
Location:  I asked a few people if they think the move to a different location was a good idea, the consensus was split. Some say having it in Glendale AZ brought out a different audience, people that would not usually travel out to Phoenix. Being in Phoenix AZ, they just got done having a show two weeks prior that was hosted at the convention center as well. The best thing I liked about the Football stadium was FREE parking and not having to worry about downtown parking,  the money for parking could have went to the exhibitor floor. There could be numerous reasons as to why the show may have been moved, space, cost, easy access so many factors but looks like it will be held there again in the future.
Preferred (Paid) Seating: This was the first year Phoenix has offered preferred seating, you pay x amount of dollars to make sure to get a good seat at the panel offered, and not have to stand in line. I had mixed feeling about and still leaning to the side of not liking it. This is not a show in particular that is known for “pay for your seat” like other conventions out there, one of the aspects of a comicon is waiting in line. The time you dedicate or give yourself to stand in line is rewarded when you find the perfect seat in the panel. This I feel was an unattractive way to get money, not every fan can afford it or wants to spend even more for a guest. This is on top of the money that was already being dished out, whether for a photo op, autograph or both, along with the exhibitor floor purchases. Another downside to this is creating a two tiered fandom, which doesn’t sound fun at all, and the opportunity to enjoy is not as equal when it comes to paid seating.
The Vibe: The show did not really have a vibe let alone a good one. How is that possible? Whatever it was giving off was not the best and has seen better. Speaking to some of the exhibitors the down side was no one was really buying, as this is always a hit or miss for every show. I believe it was to the fact that being Halloween, and being a popular month for everyone to buy cosplay items or fun merchandise for the year while things are not overpriced. The Phoenix Convention Center also held a previous event exclusive to Halloween merchandise known as  Keen Halloween. This could have been a factor with the low sales, as there was not enough recovery time, that would have allowed people to happily spend more. 
Exhibitors: I loved everyone I talked to at the show and came across, not only chatting about the show but connecting.  However while I was looking at the exhibitor list before the show I noticed more than half of them were at Phoenix Comicon in June 2016 and the past two Fan Fests held. I do commend Phoenix Comicon for taking care of their loyal vendors, but at the same time wish they would use this small show as window for different exhibitors to get in. Ones that have never been and/or are wait listed for the bigger show, maybe offering them a chance to attend. Not only would they be new, their fan base would be new to the scene as well. Although I did see different faces there from the last two Fan Fests I think there could have been more.
phoenix fan fest
Top: Former logo   Bottom: New logo
Overall:  I still had a great time! I know the Phoenix Fan Fest means well, and they are still trying to find their footing in the comic con scene. They had a diverse guest list which included wrestlers, I don’t understand how they got into the convention circuit, but I am glad they are there and receiving a warm welcome. The branding was different, formerly known as Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, this year brought about a name change and logo change for the better. Like every show there is room for improvement, this show has a much work they can and need to do before it evolves into what it can be. I know for the most part I will be attending Fan Fest in the future.

Did you attend Phoenix Fan Fest? What were some of your thoughts? 

Until next time, Watchtower over & out. 
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