Has it been your dream to meet Outlander cast members? Get your photo taken with them, ask them questions, hang out for a while? For more than 100 fans, last weekend fulfilled that dream, at the first Sasnak City convention in, read it backwards, Kansas City! The dreamchild of Outlander fan Gina Hubbell, Sasnak City was the culmination of months of hard work by Gina and her team of dedicated local fans and far-off friends and helpers.
Eight – yep, count ’em, eight – cast members, past, present, and future – joined fans for photos, autographs, table discussions, panels, and other activities over three days. Graham McTavish, Gary Lewis, Cesar Domboy, Grant O’Rourke, Lauren Lyle, Steven Cree, John Bell, and Ed Speleers chatted, joked, teased, ate, drank and sang with more than 100 fans. They hugged, took selfies and posed photos, and so much more!
This was a tiered ticket event, with the top ticket holders, the Fraser’s Ridge guests, having access to several exclusive events. But included in all ticket levels were photos and autographs, panels, a Saturday night cocktail party, gift bags, and a roundtable visit with individual cast members. We could add extra experiences – additional autographs and photographs, small meet and greets and more! The meet and greets – one with EACH guest – were fantastic. All of the guests were engaging, funny, and very open. We got to hear from Cesar about his young days as a tennis champion; from John Bell about his parents’ decision to keep him grounded by taking him to an audition for a job they knew he couldn’t get (because he can’t sing); from Gary about his interests in science and history. We heard a few stories about filming Outlander, about upcoming projects, and so much more that you don’t get anywhere else. Plus, each guest took selfies with every meet and greet attendee!
The event was held at a stunning location, the National World War One Museum and Memorial, in Kansas City. Guests who took the time to explore the venue found interactive exhibits, artifacts, stories, and more about WW1 and the US involvement in the conflict. Fraser’s Ridge ticket holders were treated to a VIP tour of the venue with the stars, followed by a cocktail party, on Friday night. It was great to see some attendees who were very shy with the celebs at the beginning of the event grow in confidence, because all of the stars were so welcoming and friendly, and end up on Sunday chatting like old friends with people they had been so nervous to be around!
Sasnak City was an amazing event. The vibe among the attendees was positive and friendly! When adjustments had to be made the staff took care of it and were pleasant and helpful. The eight guests were all absolutely terrific, and seemed to have as much fun as we did! The Fraser’s Ridge ticket gave me the type of interaction I’ve hoped for, but had never experienced until last weekend. I’m already planning on a return trip for Sasnak City 2019.
– Ruth Ann Carr
Friday was check-in and time to visit vendors, including Nina Wozniak, who supplied lots and LOTS of gorgeous, handmade items for the goodie bags, including creating a beautiful tote bag stuffed with treats for the Fraser’s Ridge attendees. Other vendors included the Albion Tea Company; Sheldon Pewter; a leatherworker who sold hand-tooled items; and a woman who made all kinds of natural soaps and scrubs.
There were a few scheduling hiccups on Saturday, partly because nobody – stars and attendees alike – wanted to rush through things. John Bell and Graham McTavish were only able to be with us on Saturday, so photos, meet and greets, and autographs with them all had to be conducted that day. But Gina and her team did a great job of reorganizing events and getting everything that was bumped moved to Sunday.
Sasnak City drew my attention not only for love of Outlander and meeting my fav cast/actors, but after going to larger(r) conventions, this event had limited tickets sold while offering SO MUCH for the cost. What I left with was just priceless – amazing, top notch personable and honoring experiences with cast and forever friends. I’m going back!!
– Melissa Bischoff
One of the big treats on the weekend was the debut of Steven Cree’s short film The Little Princess. The 8-minute film, which Steven wrote and performs in, came out of his concern for the rapidly rising suicide rates in the UK. In the film, a suicidal man changes his mind following an encounter with a young girl, who shows him friendship at the worst time in his life. All attendees watched and sniffled, and he was obviously moved by our response! The film has only been shown in a couple of festivals, including one in Green Bay, WI earlier this year, but he said it was very special to him to have such an overwhelmingly positive response from his Outlander fans. For those of us who only know Steven from the show and maybe from his sarcastic and very funny Twitter presence, Sasnak City was a revelation.
Other cast impressions:
- Graham is a consummate professional. But he’s happy to share stories of his failures (see the video below for a story about his time as an assistant stage manager), and we were all extremely impressed with how much he loves meeting all of us.
- John Bell was a delight! He’s been involved with some of entertainment’s biggest fandoms – The Hobbit and Doctor Who – so he’s no stranger to fans, but he had a great time playing along with us for fun pictures, laughed constantly, and was basically adorable.
- Lauren Lyle is young, beautiful – and absolutely wonderful. She and Cesar obviously enjoy each other’s company, and have a lovely friendship that is obvious on screen. She’s very stylish, very intelligent, and has a bright future.
- Cesar hugged everyone, charmed everyone, and had great insights into the show, his character’s relationship to other characters, and his career. It was so much fun to be anywhere near him!
- Gary couldn’t be contained. He obviously didn’t want to be sitting in the green room relaxing – he jumped into photo sessions, sang for the crowd, and had the highest-attended meet and greet! During the VIP venue tour, he asked thoughtful questions, and was completely absorbed.
- Ed Speleers, in his very first Outlander event, was another one who wasn’t content unless he was out and among the fans. He stood and chatted with people in autograph lines, talked about his 3-year-old son. He also started a fabulously funny bromance with Steven, whom he hadn’t met before (and won’t have any scenes with in Outlander). He burst into Lauren’s meet and greet at one point, looking for a missing jacket (which she had hidden). And he wore great socks all weekend.
- Grant was interested in every attendee, told us about his stage projects, including his upcoming appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and made it obvious why we loved Rupert so much – there’s so much Grant in that character! But you’d never know that Rupert and Grant are the same person – makeup and beard make a huge difference!
I went to this event not knowing anyone except Gina. Throughout the weekend, I never had a time where I didn’t feel included in the conference. To have these women be so welcoming was a joy and surprise. The cast was incredibly generous with their time and I fell in love with them all over again. The new members of hte Outlander family were fun, fabulous, attentive and affectionate. I felt like they were newfound friends. My one regret was giving in to a sudden shyness and not getting any selfies on Friday night. Never again! I have nothing but praise for Gina and her squad of super femmes for creating an incredibly intimate experience this weekend. I will be back!
– Nancy Hibberd
Throughout the weekend, several amazing items, including Vera Adxer prints, signed by cast members; Outlander wines; gift baskets; and more, were available in a raffle. Gina also had one of the 25 Printshop sign prints available as a silent auction. All money raised went to a personal cause, strongly supported by all cast members – Gina’s son is autistic, and she raised money to create a safe outdoor space at her son’s school for these special-needs children. Nearly $4,400 was raised in raffle ticket sales and the print auction, and more than another $5,000 was pledged in a GoFundMe campaign.
Gina said of the weekend, “I’m amazed at the group of attendees that were there, and my amazing team of women. I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed themselves, including the cast! And I appreciate the respectful way the attendees treated the cast and each other!” She said her son became best friends with Gary Lewis, as Gary played guitar and sang with him. She says that her son invited Gary into his world completely!
She added, “Cesar made me cry by telling me how much he loved seeing me with my family and how beautiful it was to see me with them and get to meet them. They were all amazing, but I think the one that was most personal for me in regards to the cast was Steven Cree allowing me to show his film, because I know how personal it was to him. And that was such an honor for me.” Her favorite moment? “That’s easy – seeing people’s dreams come true and knowing I helped make it happen – that’s the greatest thing in the world to see!”
Sunday afternoon ended for most of the attendees with a roundtable event, where the stars split up and spent about 10 minutes individually at each table, chatting with attendees. Fraser’s Ridge guests had an additional event – a whisky and chocolate pairing, with a special cocktail and information about four different whiskies, aged from 7-14 years. The chocolates were also amazing, the guests all said!
Rik Rankin and Sophie Skelton were originally scheduled to be guests at this event, but because of last-minute filming schedule changes, were unable to attend. Fans were disappointed, but Gina moved very quickly to replace them with additional cast members. We had the opportunity to tell them how much we missed them this weekend, by signing a picture mat for each one, which was added to lovely portraits and sent to them!
Sasnak City exceeded all of my expectations, truly awe inspiring!
– Anna Goodberlet
I had a wonderful time at Sasnak City! A convention like no other. Kudos to Gina and her team! Looking forward to next year!
– Melonie Ross
Watch the video below to see what we did last weekend!
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