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After some sleep, some more caffeine, and probably some food in there somewhere, it was time for SPNDallas Day 2, which for me meant – MIIIISSSHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To say that I was excited to see Misha’s panel might have been the teeny tiniest of understatements. 😉 At the time, I was also thinking that I was going to have my autograph with him that day (where I was going to share my doctoral research with him – holy CRAP NERVES!), but I’ll get to that. Suffice it to say, excitement was high!

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Misha Collins
Credit: Kim Prior

First on the list of panels was yet another chat with one of our favorite sheriffs, Briana Buckmaster. Being new, I was still learning to trust the schedule and was concerned that maybe they were teasing us by saying there was another panel with her when there wasn’t, but there she was! And so was Rachel Miner, who I thought I’d missed! Both women talked about incredibly relatable things about life and womanhood, as well as awesome discussions about their characters and costars (Briana might have mentioned that we should smell Jensen if and when we get close to him, so clearly we all have the freedom to do that now without being creepy, right?). Both were so vocal about the importance of finding your own strengths and sharing them with others. Honestly, if I could have Briana and Rachel in my ear every day, I think I could take over the world. They don’t just exude power and confidence themselves... they spread it all over the audience, like glitter.

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Rachel Miner
Credit: Kim Prior

After these two panels came a bit of a break, which you’d think would mean some time to rest and relax, but for me meant a trip to the vendor room (which is ALSO a bit overwhelming with SO MUCH AMAZING FAN MERCH... WOW!). I was able to see all kinds of incredible art, made by amazing fandom artists, buy a beautiful con journal from Con*Quest Journals (who it was great to meet because I love her planner!), talk to the amazing folks with I’m Alive and learn more about what they do, and say hello to Mama Prior and Lynn Zubernis who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on Project FanCare. Plus, I got to experience my very first vendor jam. <3 Lots of activity, LOTS of people, but absolutely incredible to see everyone!

The next panel was Richard Speight, Jr., Rob Benedict, and Matt Cohen, and was all kinds of fun. They talked about their adventures together both as coworkers and friends, plus their work on the show, both in front of and behind/beyond the camera. After the boys came the moms: Sam and Courtney Ford, in her first SPN con appearance (we weren’t the only newbies!). I deeply loved hearing their insights as moms on the show, and especially hearing how upset Courtney was when she realized what Jack did to Mary! I just have to mention that, though she wasn’t sure whether to say it or not, Courtney talked about how one of the important things you can do as a parent is handle your trauma so you don’t perpetuate the cycle onto your kids. As a mental health pro, it was all I could do to resist getting up and dancing on my chair! Thank you for being willing to talk about these issues, Courtney, and for normalizing the need for therapy!

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Matt Cohen
Credit: Kim Prior

Then, after the moms, it was MISHA TIME!!!!! Since this was my first con, I didn’t make any attempt to ask a question, as I just wasn’t sure how I was going to react in the con atmosphere. But I have to say, seeing Misha right in front of me didn’t send me into a fangirl spiral of OMGOMGHESTHEREOMG. It was, just like with the other actors, more of a warm fuzzy, soft smile kind of feeling, and a desire to listen to him talk literally all day. I couldn’t believe how much awesome was crammed into this one panel (and how much retroactive FOMO (*Fear of Missing Out) I suddenly possessed for not having seen panels he’s done for all these years!). 

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Misha Collins
Credit: Kim Prior

Some highlights:

  • Referencing Pride month when someone in the audience yelled that they loved him;
  • Parenting joys and challenges (though hearing him talk about Maison struggling with him being gone a lot hurt.. I’ve dealt with the same from my 7 year old, and those situations are always so painful. I wanted to hug him. ☹<3);
  • Family stories involving cars trips, in-laws, kids, dog poop in his lap, digging for change around toll booths, and the police;
  • His experiences playing all the different versions of Cas, including how Cas’ initial demeanor was born (he says nerves at an audition, though I still think it’s just talent!);
  • How he stumbled upon explicit Destiel fanfiction when he was first on the show, and recognized the name of who was asking a question at a panel from LiveJournal and asked her about it... and realized he had just told her that he had “read her porn journal... about me.” I literally almost fell off my chair laughing! 

Once Misha’s panel was over (after a quick conversation with Misha and Rich giving us the backstory about Misha’s orange underwear habit, which he SHOWED US he was wearing – cue brain melt), it was time for autographs and photo ops and auctions (oh, my!). I stuck around, thinking that I would get my Misha autograph, and then eat something before coming back for the Saturday Night Special (SNS). However, everything seemed to be moving slowly, and despite the almonds and protein bars in my bag, I was starting to feel ill from not eating properly, so I decided to risk skipping my autograph that day to roll the dice on them being able to fit me in Sunday. I didn’t want to miss Misha, but I also didn’t want to pass out from starvation. So, food was acquired, going back to the hotel was skipped, and we raced back (now with more stable blood sugar) to get in line so that Carin could get a decent GA seat.

We were now a full 24 hours past karaoke, and I noticed at this point that my ability to connect with other fans was still shockingly stunted. I had been able to catch up with a few people that I knew from social media and other cons (Hi Monique and Tina!), and overall people were friendly, but most seemed primarily unwilling to engage much. The people that I sat by in the main room were nice, and we helped each other out watching stuff and laughing about panels, but no conversations were held. Incredible things came our way while we were in line, however, like finger lights to use for certain songs at the SNS to show Rob and Louden Swain we love them, and glow sticks to wear or hold, and oh my CHUCK so many silicone bracelets! The kindness of the fandom was staggering, and the time, money, and effort people put in helping us make sure the actors/musicians felt loved was so, so beautiful.

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Jason Manns & Rob Benedict
Credit: Kim Prior

Heading into the SNS, I was almost painfully excited. Hearing Louden Swain through the panels made me eager for more, and I knew there were other actors that would be coming out to sing. And of course, of course, Jensen. The concert itself was a blur of emotion that I’m honestly not even sure how to write about. As the daughter of a drummer, live music was a big part of my childhood, and invokes powerful emotion for me.

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Richard Speight Jr.
Credit: Kim Prior

The combination, then, of live music with a television show that has literally changed my life, in this kind of fandom environment was just… mind-blowing. I can’t even begin to separate out what I felt, or put an order to anything that happened.

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Briana Buckmaster
Credit: Kim Prior

Briana’s voice, Matt’s stage jump, Rich’s Nirvana (among the million other things he played)...

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Matt Cohen
Credit: Kim Prior

And then Louden Swain themselves! Being the house band for Supernatural cons, I kind of thought maybe people loved them just because they loved cons? But… no! These guys are immensely talented and people clearly love them because they’re awesome. The lyrics to She Waits and Mama’s Jam were so beautifully personal, their rendition of Hallelujah with Jason Manns brought me to tears, and when fans turned on our finger lights for Amazing, which is a song about how the Supernatural fandom helped save Rob’s life after a stroke, it was one of the most breathtaking fandom sights I have ever seen. All of this in and of itself would’ve made for a magical and incredibly memorable night.

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Billy Moran ~ Louden Swain
Kim Prior

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Michael Borja ~ Louden Swain
Credit: Kim Prior

But then there was Rockstar Jensen, too.

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Jensen Ackles
Credit: Kim Prior

Seeing Jensen come out on stage was a wild experience. You don’t expect your first time seeing one of your favorite actors in person to be at a concert. Considering we were in Texas, I was also expecting a big hat and some country music, but what we got was a ball cap and a Bryan Adams love song, which is so far up my alley I freaking live there. I have to be honest that at this point, my brain overloaded and basically shut down. It was literally too much for my fangirling mind and heart to accept all at once. The man who brought us Dean Winchester, live in front of me, singing “Heaven,” -- which is a personal favorite, and such an emotional song! -- backed instrumentally by the men who brought us Gabriel, and God Himself… I know I took pictures, I know I took video, and I know I enjoyed myself, but the experience took on a kind of out-of-body, is-this-actually-reality kind of feeling.

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Jensen Ackles
Credit: Kim Prior

In one of Lisa Berry’s  blogs “Breathe”, she described Supernatural cons as “church for people who don’t go to church.” In this moment, I understood that fully. And when Rob, at the end of the show, came out and sang Fare Thee Well as an encore… I wept. The power of the event, the power of the con, the power of this family, and the power of the music and its marriage to this show that has impacted my life so thoroughly, just... overwhelmed me. And it was perfect.

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Jensen Ackles
Credit: Kim Prior

I met frackin David Haydn-Jones!!!

As a steward, I was expected to be on duty at 8.30 am for photo sessions. I had no idea what to expect at photo sessions, having never been to a convention, and it was really daunting. There were stewards who had done it before, some who were new to stewarding and I could feel the tension of unsureness in the air.  It was really difficult to gauge expectations without having a 'checklist' of what was needed to be set up on the day. But anyway... I was lucky to have been paired with another steward on 'bag duty' where it was her first convention, too! I spent three hours doing bag duty and the best part of this was meeting all the fans who were nervous, excited, and scared to meet the cast. I was on the side with Erica Cerra, Teryl Rothery, Leah Cairns, Mark Sheppard and Ruth Connell; I was so blown away by how down to earth all the cast were, as they spent time talking to all the fans during photos, where possible. It was inspiring. I watched as cast made fans feel so comfortable in their identity (saw so many pride flags, for example), and it was incredible. I also got a compliment from Teryl and a wink from Ruth which just made my day! The fandom were so amazingly cool and full of a sense of fun as we joked when they were in line for photos. I could talk more openly, have a laugh and dance about.  I felt my anxiety, nervousness, and isolation melting away being surrounded by so many SPNFamily members. There were so many excellent cosplay for these photos - especially Cas and Dean in Victorian dress WOW - and it was an absolute delight to be able to see these (if I was elsewhere at the convention, I may not have).
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After photo sessions it was time for the afternoon of panels/Q&A. This is something I was looking forward to and as a steward we had reserved seating behind gold ticket holders! It is hard to describe panel sessions but suffice it to say that the combinations were great and not as I had expected. I was used to seeing primarily male pairings from SPN/CE conventions, with maybe one or two panels of women; to see so many women on stage made this special. I remarked to my con buddy earlier that I had never seen so many women guests at a convention before and that this was spectacular. (Little did I know that the organiser had tried to make this a SPN/Wayward convention).

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Teryl Rothery
Credit: Claire

There were two panels before lunch and then two after: Leah Cairns and Magda Apanowicz/Kim Rhodes and Erica Cerra then Mark, Ruth, and Teryl/ British Men of Letters (BMoL). I found it a lot easier to be myself in the panel sessions as I could just listen and laugh with everyone else.

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Ruth Connell
Credit: Claire

Panel sessions were hilarious, but also inspiring, hearing from women and their experiences on different shows, acting, nerves and auditions, and their own attachments to shows they have been on and have loved. The chairs on the stage were also a huge laugh as they kept spinning round on the cast, which made the panels really entertaining. 

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Erica Cerra

Lunch was such a short break. I could have done with a longer one as I was exhausted in body from the morning, and in mind from taking in the whole experience. A side note: bring your own food if you don't want to spend a lot of money and have food allergies! There wasn't enough food for gluten free, it was expensive, and definitely not enough time to eat! Back from lunch and time for the afternoon panels. I didn't think I would get emotional at one of these until Mark started speaking about fandom, anxiety and being kind to one another.  I got all teary and realised that I was not alone -- others in the audience were too. Before I had time to process this, it was time for BMoL panel. I don't think I have laughed so hard in my life!

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Adam Fergus, David Haydn-Jones & Elizabeth Blackmore

Starfury convention schedules ensure that photo ops, panels, meet and greets and autograph sessions don't overlap so everyone gets the opportunity to see the cast without having to rush away. This was something that I had not expected and found reassuring, as I thought I might miss an opportunity. The auto-sessions are done by number systems and can be very busy! I had to wait with my con buddy for about 2 hours for our number to be called and once you’re in the room, you cannot leave (which is weird). But my first auto of the con was David.

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Adam Fergus
Credit: Claire

I was so awestruck but had to tell him that he was our first cast member to interact with our fan account, our honorary Scotsman. And HE REMEMBERED - he said - 'that's you?' I thanked him for the interaction, as it means a lot and he replied - THANK YOU. I think I nearly fell over and got a bit teary. I met frackin DHJ!

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David Haydn-Jones
Credit: Claire

My con buddy said to me: charisma is a real thing when she saw just how blown away I was.  I had not expected the warmth and sincerity of the cast. I had heard about how great the cast was but never experienced anything like this. Next was Erica, Elizabeth, and Magda. These ladies were amazing. What turned out to be a misunderstanding of what I said in a Scottish accent ('can you sign this in blue') ended up turning into hilarious banter about boobs with Erica, and Elizabeth soon followed. So funny! . Magda’s line was so long (I literally waited nearly an hour for the last 3 signatures) as she was making sure all the autos were special and had little poems or haikus with her autograph. It was amazing!

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By the time this ended, I was so tired (and pumped up at the same time) and hungry that dinner was needed. I had dinner with my con buddy away from the hotel, which was a good decision. It gave me a chance to be away from the busy crowds and noise of the convention and I could talk with my con buddy about the day. It was really nice to be able to have this time to reflect and realise I was not alone in my feelings! We came back to the hotel for a drink and was blessed with ‘gold plated' gin (gin that was priced so high that it should have been gold plated). There was a cosplay competition - which neither of us knew much about - and the party. We ducked our heads into the party and decided to forgoe this event. It was very loud and practically empty. I still was not sure what these parties were about: was it just for fans to dance and cut loose or does the cast join in? It was themed (Scoobynatural) but I wasn’t even sure how that was done as we couldn’t see anything special at the party.  We decided it wasn't really for us so we went back to the hotel to chill out/ rest / sleep and prepare for another full day. I was exhausted from being on my feet most of the day and had not realised just how tiring (physically and emotionally) the day had been. But I made it through the first full day and was ecstatic. Despite some ups and downs, it was a really great day. 

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Me and Nat who also was a steward at the con.

Lessons Learned

  1. Eat lunch, make time for it! You will not be able to con as much as you want without it;
  2. Plan for autograph sessions to start late and go long. Bring snacks and water!
  3. Some cons have no merch or fan art available – find out in advance or you will be disappointed;
  4. Ask questions about the social events and have back up plans if these are not for you;
  5. Give yourself a budget ahead of time or you will try to buy everything; 
  6. Fanfic: DHJ/Ketch with Ketchup makes for an interesting combo;
  7. Misha enjoys receiving gifts of orange underwear from fans, and wears them almost exclusively. 

Thanks for reading!
Please share your comments, questions and reactions below! Keep going to hear how Chrisha and Kimm survived J2M day (US) & Kim/David/et al Day (UK) in Part 2 of our convention report, complete with even more highlights!