And where to start on this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend show? Well, I could start with Cursed Friday. The original plan was to have everything packed and ready to go on the Friday morning of the show, and arrive at the hosting hotel around noon. Between a client that showed up at the space at the same time I did and a nagging feeling that I wasn’t bringing out enough plants, the truck left the space at around 3 p.m.. Then, to make matters better, highway construction turned Dallas’s LBJ Freeway into a parking lot, and the logjam broke up just in time for one of North Texas’s famous spring thunderstorms. This culminated with my final approach to DFW Airport, when a flash and a horrible BOOM let me know that the truck had been struck by lightning. I was fine, the truck was fine, and the plants were fine, but combined with rain coming down in sheets wide and thick enough to be distinguished by weather radar, I was a little thunderstruck, literally, by the time I pulled into the hotel parking lot and faced the largest and most enthusiastic crowd Texas Frightmare Weekend had ever seen.
How enthusiastic was the crowd? The photo above is of the aftermath on Sunday afternoon, after the convention had ended. I started with 15 packing crates full of plants and containers, and almost all of that was gone by Friday evening. I started with twice what I normally would have brought to a Frightmare in previous years, and had to double THAT over Saturday and Sunday. Other vendors were complaining but not really complaining about the situation, too: one vendor down the aisle had spent the last year getting ready for what used to be a typical Frightmare crowd, and was glad that she brought a sewing machine with her because all of her inventory was gone by about 9 on Friday night. We weren’t even remotely prepared for the crowd: one of the best compliments that could be paid to the incredible vendors through the rest of the show was that the crowd wasn’t ready for us, either.
After spending most of 2016 reading about “Peak Convention” and how we were seeing far too many big conventions in the US and Canada and not enough fans to keep them going, I humbly submit that anyone wanting to get a better feel for the situation should get their memberships to Frightmare 2017 as quickly as possible. Yes, a lot of conventions are going to crater in the next few years as the initial rush of attendees a decade ago realize that they can’t afford to go to them all. Yes, a lot are going to die as they try to take out competitors by scheduling opposite each other and wondering why nobody’s showing up at all. (I watched this same exact scenario happen repeatedly in the 1980s and 1990s, and that’s a big reason why Dallas was nearly convention-free by 2001.) However, the crew at Frightmare should offer courses for beginning convention organizers as how to do things right: the Security crew was happy, the organizers were happy, the guests were happy, the vendors were happy, and the attendees were absolutely ecstatic.
As for the Triffid Ranch, the highest compliment as to what I’m trying to accomplish at Frightmare arrived on Friday evening. I’ve had the standing offer for the attendees arriving in costume that they qualivy for prizes if they come out in plant-related costumes, and a mother called up on Thursday to ask “are you still doing this? My son and daughter want to know if you’re doing this before they come out.” And this is how, right after getting everything situated (with full credit going to the Frightmare crew in helping me clear out my truck), two Venus Flytraps showed up in front of my tables. I’d better start saving up for a really big prize, because I can’t wait to see what these two do when they’re starting college.
To be continued…