Guest post by Laura Kemp, author of ‘Evening in the Yellow Wood’
When Ana, my 12-year-old daughter, started watching the Netflix series Stranger Things, I thought it was pretty cool. When I started watching it with her, I devoured Seasons 1 and 2 in a couple of days. When she started a fan page on Instagram for actor Noah Schnapp (entitled ‘Supschnapp’ when we discovered ‘SchnappChat’, was taken) I knew I had to get her to a StrangerCon convention STAT.
And so I did.
Last November, I drove my daughter to Nashville despite snowstorms, road construction and traffic conditions we usually don’t see in White Pigeon, Michigan. Memories were made. Tears were shed. Fried Green Tomatoes were eaten (by me… not Ana). I had never attended anything like this before, and was anxious about getting Ana to the ‘right place’at the ‘right time.’ Needless to say, we survived. And not only that, we plan on attending another one next year.
Here is a our guide to surviving StrangerCon
DO take snacks along- We grabbed a cooler at the last minute and threw a bunch of things into it. Thank God we did. The hotel had one restaurant where a cup of soup would set you back a cool eight bucks. We didn’t have time to eat regular meals, let alone leave the hotel between activities and so our cooler full ‘o snacks staved off starvation for the time being
DO stay in the hotel where the convention is taking place- We had a comfy room, and Ana was able to go back and ‘calm down’ between hugs from Noah Schnapp. It also saved us the hassle of trying to drive across town to make it to places on time. The hotel may have been more expensive than a cheap one on the edge of town, but it was WELL worth the peace of mind.
DO sign up for Autographs, not just Photo-Ops- I added the autograph option on as an afterthought. I’d already purchased a photo op with Noah Schnapp, but read later that the line moved so fast each fan would only have about 5-10 seconds with the object of their affection (which was completely TRUE). The autograph line, although not as glamorous as a photo, offers a more personal meeting with the star of choice. Ana had a few moments to chat with Noah Schnapp, get another hug (see why she needed to calm down in our room) and tell him about her fan page. Hey, Noah!! If you’re reading this… remember to follow SUPSCHNAPP on Instagram! (and anyone else who reads this, too)
DON’T just focus on one actor- I was trying to save money and only bought photo op/autograph sessions with Noah Schnapp. In hindsight I would have really liked to visit with the other stars and gotten to see what they were like. Sure, it’s more expensive, but it gives a broader, more well-rounded experience. Spend the money. Get to know everyone. You won’t regret it.
DON’T plan to do ANYTHING ELSE on your convention days. I had the best intentions to meet up with a friend in Nashville, but after the brutal drive and stress of registering for events, plus dealing with the roller coaster emotions of my daughter (and hundreds of other middle- school girls) I was totally drained of energy. Autograph and photo-op times are also dependent on when your ticket number is called, and how fast the line moves, and how many bathroom breaks the actors take. So go sightseeing on days you don’t have to plan around things that are totally out of your control.
And there you have it. The short list of how to survive your first StrangerCon. We did it. You can, too. And if you take our advice, you might just want to go back again.
On a side note: a few months after we took this excursion I was once again on a Stranger Things quest while driving home from Disney World. After some research on the internet, we discovered that the show is filmed primarily in the small town of Stockbridge, Georgia- which was right off our route.
With my other children and husband in tow, we rolled into the small town just after dark, a little irritated because we’d had bad service at lunch, making us late and we didn’t think we would be able to get good pictures.
I shouldn’t have worried- my kids were so geeked just to be on ‘Hawkins Middle School’ ground that they didn’t care they had to get their lighting from street lamps. And when I tried the door to the gymnasium and found it unlocked, we all piled inside like a bunch of star struck dorks.
Lucky for us, basketball practice was in full swing, or the building would have been inaccessible, and when the coach approached us at a brisk pace, I had to trust my basketball-loving husband to sweet talk him.
It worked. After his initial ‘you have two minutes to take your pictures and go’ he changed his tune after learning my stepson played ball. He became talkative, told us about how he’d purchased the building a few years ago, how the creators had come to him promising only one ‘pilot episode’ , and how he and his team had to clean up tinsel from the gym after the famous ‘Snowball Dance’ scene.
In short, he seemed to be charmed by a bunch of small town folks from Michigan, and we were certainly charmed by him.
And the best part of the story… if we hadn’t been late we would have missed basketball practice altogether, along with the opportunity to meet the two-time state championship basketball coach- turned owner of the most famous school in TV Fandom.
All things happen for a reason.
You can get more information about StrangerCon right here!