How can a convention cancelled just three days before it was scheduled make it up to its fans? Midwest Media Expo demonstrates how to do exactly that with #NotCon2017.
Midwest Media Expo, a Detroit-based Geek and Pop Culture convention scheduled for the weekend of April 27th, cancelled the entire event just three days before it should have begun. M2X, the sister convention of Youmacon, features roleplaying, video games, comic books, fantasy, cosplay, and all things geek.
The chairman of the convention, Morgan Kollin, wrote a sorrowful and heartfelt post on the convention’s Facebook page informing attendees of the cancellation. The disappointment in hearing the news was widespread – from casual attendees hoping to get in some nerdy shopping, to artists who planned on selling prints of their work, to cosplayer meetups and photoshoots, and especially the organizers who had spent months planning and preparing for an event that would no longer happen. Yet, however unfortunate and unforeseen this was, fans of the convention made it known that they were still loyal to the convention and its organizers and an outpouring of support came through via comments on the Facebook post.
In response, less than a day after the announcement was made, the convention page posted an update about something they called “NotCon.” It teased a free fan appreciation event that would happen instead – and at a different location; Radisson Hotel Detroit-Farmington Hills. Evidently, Midwest Media Expo’s organizers had worked round-the-clock in order to pull off an event in lieu of M2X, and scheduled it for that same weekend. Two of the celebrity guests who had been invited to the cancelled convention, David Eddings (Gearbox, Borderlands) and Jon St. John (Duke Nukem), were announced to be coming to Detroit regardless for “up close and personal meet & greets and hangout time with their fans.” Suddenly, #NotCon2017 was born.
An event page was created on Facebook and continues to update as new developments are made. First came an open tabletop gaming event. Then, the new location offered some space for vendors to set up shop. The new hotel completely sold out rooms and invited anyone else hoping to attend to stay at another nearby hotel (just mention “NotCon” for a discounted rate)! The tagline for NotCon became “Last minute magic” – and they were delivering. Apart from the concert and dances, the event remains entirely free and open to the public.
“It’s not the event we planned, but our heart is in it,” said Verneita DeVille, head of Guest Relations for Midwest Media Expo and one of the last-minute organizers.
The day before the original convention had planned to start, even more NotCon2017 announcements were made by organizers and fans alike. Meetups and fan-run panels that had been scheduled for Midwest Media Expo reached out to see if they could still happen. A cosplay beach party hosted at the hotel pool sprung up. A concert announcement featuring artists MC Chris (@_mcchris) and Fox & Pepper (@foxamoore, @peppercoyote) was made. Even more DJ announcements. Dances on both Friday and Saturday night. And even a cosplay contest! The original video gaming tournament that had been scheduled for M2X was allowed to continue as planned, and they even brought dozens of classic stand up arcade game cabinets. Tokyo Attack, a Japanese arcade, brought DanceDanceRevolution, Street Fighter V, UFO Catchers (claw machine prize games), Super Table Flip, BeatStream, and more.
See, I had been invited as a cosplay guest to Midwest Media Expo. When I’d heard that the convention was cancelled, I was crushed. I’d been planning on wearing several new cosplays, hosting cosplay- and comedy-related panels, meeting friends and fans, and just hanging out. But as I was following along the news of the cancellation, I was struck by the extraordinary amount of effort and devotion that the staff of M2X put into giving something to the fans. Anything to make up for the heartbreak. Even if it was very small.
It may have started small, but the level of encouragement and support from the fans was inspiring, and it grew beyond what anyone had anticipated. Everyone’s hearts were in it, and it showed. They could have walked away, letting the hours and work they put into M2X fade away. They could have shrugged and said, “oh well, maybe next year.” But instead, they went into overdrive. A full schedule of events was released – starting from 3:00pm on Friday and going until 6:00pm on Sunday. I’m still incredibly impressed – dumbfounded, even. The M2X team didn’t just stop when things were “good enough”, they mobilized and created something that says a lot about the community they represent. Even though I wasn’t able to attend, I’m so glad that I had an opportunity to see this as it was unfolding on Facebook and Twitter. We’d like to thank everyone involved for organizing #NotCon2017 and showing us how resilient the convention community in Detroit is!
Today is Day Two of NotCon2017, so we’ll be updating this post later with more news of the event and details from the organizers themselves. In the meantime, here are some photos from #NotCon2017.
— Ochan30 (@Ochan30) April 29, 2017
— MMBD The Podcast (@MMBDPodcast) April 29, 2017
— MMBD The Podcast (@MMBDPodcast) April 28, 2017
Here are a few more photos from #NotCon2017!
— Oddy (@0ddj0b) April 28, 2017