2016 Salt Lake FantasyCon Cancelled

fantasycon_logoThe first – and so far only — FantasyCon was held in Salt Lake City in 2014 — coincidentally across the street from Westercon 67 on the same weekend. The chairs of the two events came to an understanding, which included reciprocating members’ access to each others’ conventions. Fantasycon drew over 58,000 attendees, Westercon… well, not as many.

FantasyCon founder Joshua B. Patel believed he was launching an annual event. However, even the con’s projected move to a more modest venue was not enough to keep the 2015 con from being postponed “to allow sufficient time for the logistics and creating of original art, including a 25-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall bronze water feature. ‘There was just not enough time … to maintain that unique vision,’ said Patel about attempting to schedule a 2015 convention.”

Now Patel has found it necessary to cancel the 2016 event as well. And last month he wrote a long letter appealing to fans to help “Fight for FantasyCon”.

Many people are asking what the status is for 2016. I’ve made sure to be completely honest with you from day one, so here is EXACTLY where FantasyCon stands as of today.

FantasyCon 2016 is not going to happen. The reason this comes to you now and not sooner, is I wanted to be certain and not go back and forth. I didn’t learn the financial backing would officially not be available until January 2016. My first thought the moment I learned the funds wouldn’t be available for 2016 was, “I need to tell our FantasyCon Family.” I’ve been working on this letter since then.

A little explanation: We built amazing creatures, creations, battle arenas, archery ranges, and experiences for all of our FantasyCon adventure seekers. We invited celebrities, Vegas performers, fire dancers, fire breathers, blacksmiths, glassblowers, aerialists, ballet dancers, musicians, full symphony orchestras, and the list goes on and on.

All of these amazing things came at a cost. The first event cost over 3.5 million dollars to put on….

We spent over 6 years researching and creating FantasyCon and everything was built to be a Nationwide and World touring convention. EVERYTHING is engineered to fit in semi trucks and on shipping containers to bring the magic of FantasyCon to a city near you!

Simply put, there’s not enough funds to hold another FantasyCon without additional capital investment. The investor that was going to help FantasyCon after the first event in 2014 doesn’t know if there is a big enough demand to hold it again. There have been other investors, but they want to destroy the magic, family focus, affordability, and charity aspects of FantasyCon. This much I had to refuse, as the heart and soul of FantasyCon is helping others through charity and providing affordable prices, so not just the wealthy, but EVERYONE can join the adventure!

My wife and I put our life savings into the first FantasyCon and the many charity events associated with it. We have NO regrets as we were a small part in helping tens of thousands of individuals and families ‘join us on an adventure!’ For us, FantasyCon’s Night of Dreams with the thousands of special needs guests and terminally ill children was the greatest part of the adventure.

I was teary-eyed (which you can ask my Sweetheart, never happens) as I watched countless children and families have experiences and adventures together that they would normally never be able to afford in this life. For some, this was the greatest and only adventure they were able to experience before passing on. I’m forever blessed and thank God for the opportunity to be a part of the many miracles that took place that night. It has changed me forever and is one of the main reasons I WILL NOT sell out to capitalists that only are in it for the money and not the people….

Patel outlines two strategies for gaining the necessary financial support .

If by September 2016 he can get 250,000 names/email addresses together, he believes FantasyCon can be crowdfunded.

We can fund the next FantasyCon without any investors required. We will launch a Crowd Funding campaign where we the fans can own and maintain control of the FantasyCon world. This also allows us to keep ticket prices low, keep all the amazing charity events, and finish making a beautiful Fantasy World for us all to enjoy. We can do it together!

Or with only 100,000 names, he could show the interested investors that people want FantasyCon to happen again.

The investors have already agreed to fund FantasyCon if we show this demand. The only down side is the investors will want controlling interest and will no longer allow the Night of Dreams charity night.

Those willing to help are directed to fill out the form on http://fantasycon.com/fight-for-fantasycon.html, and to follow the con on Facebook and Twitter.

[Thanks to David Doering for the story.]

11 thoughts on “2016 Salt Lake FantasyCon Cancelled

  1. IIRC, it was something like $50 at the door. Before accounting for discounts, that’s $600K in the hole. Ouch.

  2. Then it occurred to me to check the Wayback Machine. $60 for the full weekend, $40 for military or students, single-day tickets $20, $30, or $40 depending on the day.

    If every single attendee paid the full-weekend price, FantasyCon would be just short of breaking even. I’d expect the majority of people it got were single-day. (Plus, since they don’t say what method they used to count attendees, they might be counting multi-day attendees multiple times which makes the shortfall even worse.)

  3. the logistics and creating of original art, including a 25-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall bronze water feature

    Isn’t that the kind of thing that you should do with the profits from the previous con?

  4. It sounds cool and all, but nobody familiar with the concept of “budget” seems to have been involved.

  5. It sounds remarkable, but more like a Renaissance fair than a convention.

    As one of the Westercon attendees who benefited from the reciprocal-admission deal, I can report that it was like neither. It was mostly a ginormous dealers’ room filling nearly the whole of the Salt Palace. There were a couple of performance spaces but they took up relatively little room. There was a big space for lining up for autographs, and they had a couple of panel rooms.

    Another Westercon member who checked it out called it “the geek county fair”. It wasn’t even much of that. A lot of the booths weren’t even vaguely related to fantasy or sf. Very few people in costume. I got more StreetPass tags walking around Westercon than I did there.

  6. I’m just astounded that they got that kind of attendance the first time out of the box. San Diego Comic Con is larger and Dragon*Con is approaching that size (IIRC), but they took decades to grow so big; people our age remember SFExpo(*), which claimed to expect 100K people and lots of paid guests in Manhattan, but ended up ~1K in rural New Jersey.

    PJ Evans: someone trying to “start with an earthquake and build to a climax from there” — or indeed to build anything huge — might follow standard business practice (go big and hope to attract enough attention to sustain) instead of growing organically like a fan-run convention.

    (*) an amusingly unfortunate name choice; the sphex was a particularly nasty monster in Leinster’s “Exploration Team”

  7. Chip Hitchcock said:

    I’m just astounded that they got that kind of attendance the first time out of the box.

    The deep-pocketed friend who helped with the first con paid for a ton of advertising. Billboards, banners on the lampposts downtown, that sort of thing.

  8. I walked over there one afternoon during Westercon, and I simply couldn’t see how they could possibly keep doing it unless the deep-pocketed funder didn’t mind throwing away his money forever.

    Alas, this is the fallacy that many would-be conrunners have (usually on a much smaller scale). They look at the biggest events like ComicCon International and DragonCon and assume that all they have to do is open the doors and the same thing will happen to them. And many people criticize anything smaller because they don’t understand or care why not every SF/F genre event is a 100-ring, 100K-attendee circus for relatively cheap admission.

  9. As someone who was there for the full weekend (I flew in from Los Angeles area), FantasyCon was amazing. There were a lot of special guests from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as some from Dr. Who and many others. The art and special structures were fabulous, as was the entertainment. It was one of the best cons I’ve been to. I loved the Salt Palace.

    I’m pulling for them and hope they can manage to do it again. If not, I have wonderful memories, and I’m thankful it happened.

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