While it’s great to watch the show and read the books, and collect the stuff, I hear two things over and over from Outlander fans – we want to meet the cast, and we want to spend time with other fans. The second one is easy to do, in our local groups, but meeting cast members – really meeting, with autographs and photos, and opportunities to chat, are much more limited. Most of the big conventions seem to be overseas, and the travel cost alone, while exciting, is out of reach for a lot of us.
And yes, there have been some stateside conventions featuring a couple of cast members, and single-evening events with several of them – but there’s a brand new and different opportunity, in the often-ignored Midwest, to meet LOTS of stars, with autographs, photos, dinners, friends, in a really interesting setting, the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri! I’m excited about this new event – just announced today, Sasnak City! (get it? Sasnak backwards is Kansas…)
Gina Phipps-Hubbell, a Kansas City resident, Outlander mega-fan, and experienced meeting coordinator, wanted to bring a large con to the US. Today, Gina announced the project that’s consumed a huge amount of her time for many months. “We’re setting the bar pretty high. Tickets are extremely limited,” she says – to only 240 total, at 4 tiers of participation, from VIPs to more affordable ticket levels. Contracts have been finalized with several cast members, and more guests will be announced soon.
Enough already! I know you want details.
WHO Confirmed cast members include Steven Cree, Richard Rankin, and Gary Lewis; and according to the website, three more confirmations are to come.
WHERE National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Missouri. This fascinating museum and memorial has auditorium seating, a glass bridge event area, and historic and thoughtful exhibits, which attendees will have a chance to see.
WHAT Individual and group cast panels, Q and A sessions. Photo and autograph opportunities. Saturday night concert with The Highland Divas! (and possibly some surprise guests!) Lunch on both Saturday and Sunday are included, so attendees don’t have to leave the building.
WHEN Registration will be on Friday afternoon, April 20, with the Opening ceremonies set to follow. Panels, demos, and meet and greet opportunities will be held both Saturday and Sunday.
VIP VIP ticket holders – limited to 15 tickets – will have exclusive opportunities for meals with attending cast members, a cocktail party, premium seating for panels, and other perks.
COST Yes, the event is pricey. But the large number of cast members attendees can meet, and all of the events that are included put the cost in line with other events. The tiered levels allow attendees to select the ticket that fits their budget, and additional events (photos, autographs, etc.) will be offered a la carte. Tickets start at $595, and go up to $2,900 for VIP. Payment plans are available.
Gina was one of the planners of the ill-fated Scotlander convention (not connected with Scotcon, which had its own problems), which was planned for 2017, but ended up being cancelled. “It wasn’t the right time,” Gina said. “We put everything into that, everything we had. We had agreement after agreement. But we took hits from other events popping up, and we had no choice. The impact was devastating. Our original plan was to cancel the event and move it, but that didn’t happen, so we decided to dissolve the company. We refunded every ticket holder, everyone was paid back. I have the utmost respect for the other women I worked with – when we parted ways, I wished them all the best in everything they do, so much talent and so much heart. It was heartbreaking to go through that.”
So Gina came home, “distraught because I had put so much into it. I had to start from square one – the fandom is so extensive, but we’re starving for an event like this. We don’t get what the UK has. We don’t get autographs and panels. We have ComicCon, but it’s limited. We don’t have access to the cast, it’s hard to get them here, and there’s a huge overhead involved.” But she knew that she wanted to make this type of an event happen. “I’ve done events for years,” she told herself, “I can do this.” She started looking for investors, and found them. She wrote contracts and started submitting requests to talent and agents. “They were very excited! They love to do UK events, love to be around fans, but bringing them to the US is a little tricky.”
This isn’t a charity event, and while prices are high, ticket holders will get a lot for their money, including food and events. Lower level ticket holders will be able to purchase additional photo and autograph opportunities, so they can pick and choose which celebrities are most important to them. “I’m not going to make money on this event,” Gina says, “And I don’t really care. I want people to leave laughing, having fun, saying ‘Steven Cree is the funniest man alive’, ‘I just met Richard Rankin!’, ‘I had the experience of a lifetime.’ Jamie’s been my book boyfriend since 1994. I love watching people fangirl and laugh. I love that about the other conventions I go to, and I want to give that to fans here in the US because they deserve to have that experience.”