For anyone who has ever attended a convention, you understand how crazy they can be in terms of attendance, schedules, etc. Now imagine being behind the scenes and trying to organize and run a convention for the very first time. Well, this is what the people behind Fannibal Fest 2017 attempted and they did a marvelous job, giving the fans an excellent adventure with guests, panels, bus tours and more.
Fannibal Fest is a convention dedicated to fandom surrounding the Bryan Fuller television show Hannibal. There are your average fans and then there are Fannibals, an extremely dedicated group that have formed this wonderful community around the TV show and its characters. There is a Red Dragon Con in the UK or RDC, that has just finished its third year and now North America has its first Hannibal convention, Fannibal Fest, which was held in Toronto, Canada, from November 2-5.
One of the great advantages of having the convention in Toronto was since the TV show Hannibal was filmed there, a bus tour was arranged to visit many of the locations used in the series. For fans, this is a wonderful opportunity and a great idea by those in charge. Imagine being able to visit the famous “cliff house” from the Season Three finale, the Veger estate, the Observatory or even Hannibal’s home and office? Great stories were told while those on the tour took pictures at each location, now being able to touch some things both physically and mentally that most fans could only dream of doing.
Of course, a convention would not be a convention without some celebrity guests and Fannibal Fest was able to put together a fantastic list for its fans. Not only that, but these people wanted to be here, enjoyed interacting with the fans and made it such a joy to be around them. Aaron Abrams (“Brian Zeller”), Scott Thompson (“Jimmy Price”), Demore Barnes (“Tobias Budge”), Vlad Cubrt (“Garret Jacob Hobbs”) and producer Martha De Laurentiis were all wonderful in both their attitudes and conversation during the panels. I was lucky enough to moderate some of these panels and I want to thank everyone personally as they were such an engaging and energetic bunch.
This was a group of guests that were obviously not here simply out of some contractual obligation. They understand the fandom, appreciate the fans and their devotion and gave back as much love and joy and they received. It was refreshing to be part of such a great atmosphere and to enjoy the wonderful interaction between the talent and the fans.
For those who are not a fan of the show, food is a very important part of the fandom and Fannibal Fest understood this and handled it very well. Janice Poon, the food stylist on Hannibal, was on hand during the convention as well. She gave a cooking demonstration, was at the STAG Awards dinner as well as doing photos and signing copies of her FEEDING HANNIBAL Cookbook. The highlight, however, had to be the “Eat the Rude” dinner Friday night which saw a five-course dinner presented to all the guests and many fans as well. Along with being delicious, fans were treated to some wonderful rambling by Scott Thompson and some of the guests coming by the dinner tables to talk a bit with the fans.
Speaking of the fans, there wouldn’t be a Fannibal Fest at all if it wasn’t for them. They were such a wonderful collection of people, from all over the world, joined together by their love of all things Hannibal. Fannibals aren’t your ordinary fans, however. Hell, these fans bring props from the show that they’ve acquired so everyone can have a chance to enjoy them! There was no arguing, no rude behavior or privileged attitude. They are simply some of the finest fans I have ever had the chance to talk with, share time with and chat about not only Hannibal but any subject that came up in conversation without being shamed or put down. It’s too bad more fandoms aren’t like this as it would make conventions a much more interesting and enjoyable experience.
Overall, the first North American Fannibal Fest in Toronto was a complete success. It was a wonderful atmosphere and fans and guests alike seemed to really enjoy themselves. As much as I hope to see a season four of Hannibal on TV one day, I am even more hopeful that there is another Fannibal Fest in 2018.
Special thanks to all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen:
Betsy Craig, FannibalFest Organizer Meg McCallister, FannibalFest Bus Tours/Transportation/Exhibits
Melanie Maclin, FannibalFest Designer/Website/Artist Liaison
Karen Felts, FannibalFest Editing/Copy Writer/STAG Awards
Aisha Alder, FannibalFest PR/Corporate Sponsors Clayton Craig, FannibalFest Shipping/Moving/Staff Ricky Hopkins, Conference Direct, VP Global Accounts Tetyana Lukanyuk, Hilton Event Manager