Okay, so it took me a while to get this up. I started it right after the convention ended but since then I’ve been crazy busy! But, at last, here is my recap of Imaginarium 2016. Since the convention is changing venues this year, this post is a bit different from my last one and pretty personal. In short, I’m a sap. I may even make a slideshow of the first 3 years soon, but we’ll see if my busy schedule allows it. In the mean time, here is my post:
Year 3 of the nation’s premiere creative writing convention, Imaginarium, is over. 2 days ago I descended from my room into the newly emptied lobby of the Crowne Plaza hotel, where only one day prior, its rooms and halls had been buzzing with excitement. But this year’s final sweep was different, because this was the last year we would be there as a convention. We have a great new venue next year at the Ramada, which will provide more space, easier navigation, and a more reasonable budget for our guests. We are all excited for what’s next, but as I walked through those empty hallways, which were still alive with the energy and creativity that had blown through over the weekend, I said my final goodbyes to this beautiful venue.
As I glanced at the doors to the loading area, I saw the ghosts of my husband and myself assisting guests all the way back in year one when we were still volunteers. And outside I saw all of the smoke breaks we had shared with our creative comrades over these 3 years. I saw T. Lee Harris providing story time out in the open air, and I saw Frank Hall giving a guest a ride on a luggage cart. This laid back, friendly, generous and fun-filled atmosphere is part of what makes Imaginarium so great.
As my eyes grazed the vendor hall, now closed and empty, I saw through the doors into a world full of books, art, gadgets, and conversation. And as I walked past the gaming room, I saw how it had grown and expanded throughout these 3 years, like a time lapse in my mind. I passed the halls leading to some of the panel rooms and remembered all the panels I’d witnessed (most of them this year) and for a moment, brilliant conversation and ecstatic laughter filled my ears again.
Then I reached the Elliot room, where we had held the film festival every year, and I stopped to glance through the peephole one last time, as I had done on so many occasions during the convention. The room looked different, but still in my mind I could see the screen playing amazing films from all 3 years, and us, the film festival crew, working the projector and the laptop. I had already said my goodbyes to Elliot, making one last gaffer ball when we took down the room, and doing my best E.T. impression before we walked out those doors for the last time. But still, I had to say goodbye once more, because that room was where I had spent the bulk of my time at this convention. For me, that room was home.
Through the Imaginarium Convention, one of the many things I’ve learned is that lots of my fellow authors and creatives share my weird little quirks, so I wonder if anyone else has felt this way about changing venues. As we move on to a better venue, is there anyone else who feels both sorrow and excitement? A phase has come to an end for Imaginarium, but that means a new phase is also beginning. When one door closes, another one opens. So take one last look at our old venue with me before we charge forth into the future. That future is bright, and I can’t wait to make NEW memories at the Ramada when we move there for Imaginarium 2017. It’s gonna be awesome. I hope you’ll join us!
And of course I have to mention the King of Imaginarium, Stephen Zimmer, who my husband Eric and I were honored to present with a long-overdue certificate of commission for Kentucky Colonel this year (pictured above, top-left) – it really is well deserved as he not only has the Colonel spirit but his work with this convention brings people together in a way that’s unique, heartwarming, and brilliant. Stephen, you truly deserve it. Thanks for all you do, and for being the Gandalf to these 2 little hobbits, plucking us out of our safe little shire and leading us on this amazing adventure every year. Onward and upward!
In the end, it’s not the venue that matters. While the Crowne Plaza was beautiful and will always hold a special place in our hearts for hosting the first 3 years of Imaginarium, it’s the people that make it so great. From the staff to the volunteers to the guests and vendors and filmmakers and everyone else, one thing unites us and that is our creativity – our dreams – our enthusiasm… Okay so maybe that’s 3 things 😉 but my point is, if you’re feeling sad about the venue change, just remember that it doesn’t matter where you go – all that matters is who goes there with you.
I leave you with a little sneak peek into our new venue, the Ramada, from Stephen Zimmer:
Be The Lightning,