FanQuest 2019 - Post-Show Field Report

FanQuest is a recently established convention held in Winnipeg, Manitoba a city full of quality choices for congoers. The 2019 event did not emphasize any one major aspect but instead balanced several smaller but well-executed features. Panels covered everything from amateur cosplay to professional writing, vendors and artists were always on display for anyone interested, and there were numerous scheduled events happening all the time, meaning that there was always a lot to do. That consequently means that we have a lot to cover, so let's jump in and see what awaits us on this quest for fandom.

Basic Info:

When it Established FanQuest launched in 2017 as an event meant to appeal to people of every fandom, in contrast to typical conventions which often target a specific niche.
Length of Event Two Days. This year’s FanQuest was held from the 22nd to the 23rd of June 2019, starting and ending at 10 am and 6 pm respectively both days. Panels and performances began 1 to 2 hours after opening and lasted roughly until closing time.
PLACE/LOCATION FanQuest‘s home is within the walls of the Red River College’s Exchange District campus in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

160 Princess St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1K9, Canada

COST Single-day passes cost $20 for either day, with weekend passes having cost $35. These passes granted full access to all attractions and there were no additional charges once inside, except when purchasing merchandise or food.

Although there aren't any hotels in the venue's immediate vicinity, the Red River College is reasonably close to a number of accommodations, such as the modern and pet-friendly Mere Hotel or the historic Fort Garry Hotel among others.


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What to Expect

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FanQuest received a fairly small attendance, but it was clear that this was all part of their plan, with the event’s layout being clearly designed around this fact. The focal points were long alleys noticeably narrower than what would be expected from a convention, with vendors, panel rooms, guests and more all set close together.

This would make foot traffic impossible to deal with in a big convention, but has the advantage of making all points of interest easy to reach from anywhere in the event of a low number of attendees which kept everyone in high spirits as they rarely experienced any of the overcrowding that has become all too common at other conventions. The setup was not without its faults, though, a few vendors and artists told us they had trouble leaving their tables as a result of the back-to-back arrangement and while the many performances by cosplay dance groups were fun, the fact that they were held in the middle of a busy hallway was probably not appreciated by those who just wanted to pass by.

The dances were all fun to watch but those less interested in such events still had other fun things to do (when they could get to them) with an area dedicated to board and tabletop games, where congoers spent hours playing old favorites and discovering new titles. IVR Photography was also close by and invited cosplayers to pose for stylish pictures from their professional photographers.

FanQuest’s most defining feature is easily the fact that it does not commit to any particular fandom. Nearly every event of this sort dedicates itself to a specific subject like comics or anime, but FanQuest never fully commits to any one medium and instead maintains an environment that welcomes any and all fandoms, as shown on their logo which shows a monster, a skeleton, an astronaut and a superhero all joining hands together. It’s a con that includes everybody.

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What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event

Although food was served at FanQuest, the selection was somewhat small and mostly centered around snacking so we recommend packing a sandwich. Other than that, all you'll really need is a camera to commemorate your time and immortalize the stellar cosplays which the convention heavily promotes both in programming and on social media.

What to Do While There/What is Available

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What-to-Expect-FanQuest-2019-capture-281x500 FanQuest 2019 - Post-Show Field Report

What-to-Expect-FanQuest-2019-capture-281x500 FanQuest 2019 - Post-Show Field Report
What-to-Expect-FanQuest-2019-capture-281x500 FanQuest 2019 - Post-Show Field Report

The most popular spots at FanQuest were the artists’ alley where prints and sculptures were sold, the game room which had plenty of game setups to play for free along with multiple gaming contests and various different panels. These panels were where FanQuest seemed to have put most of its stock, with 14 of them spread across its two days. A high number for a small event. These panels covered enough topics for everyone to find something they like, from 2 different Q&As with actor Mpho Koaho (known for shows like The Expanse and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency) to an open pitch session with trade book publisher At Bay Press. If there was one topic that had the most attention, however, it was cosplay. 4 of the panels were dedicated entirely to the art of dressing as beloved characters, covering makeup, props and a contest for the best costumes at the show.

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The only featured celebrity guest was the previously mentioned Mpho Koaho, but every interaction with him was completely free, be it autographs, photo ops or even just a casual conversation. His friendly nature attracted fans and strangers alike and he seemed to always make a point to engage with the convention’s events and patrons, which ensured that a good time would follow him wherever he went. He was such a hit that we found a few people who went to his Q&A session twice and came out grinning ear to ear each time. Some of these happy patrons had never even heard of Koaho prior to the event, let alone counted themselves amongst his fanbase. But with how successful his appearances were, we fully expect that to have changed.

The game room featured a bevy of games to play—some new, most old—punctuated by a booth operated by Retro Detective which sold games and consoles of nearly all generations. Retro Detective also supplied many of the consoles available for free play, including an NES, a Sega Genesis, a SNES Mini and a Nintendo 64 each of which was given a healthy rotation of titles to play. Meanwhile, the Manitoba Super Smash Bros community brought their own Switches, monitors and controllers to run a free Smash Ultimate tournament, while the Extra Life charity organization ran entry-by-donation Smash Bros single-player score contests. Other competitions included high score challenges on Alien Syndrome and Pokémon Stadium minigames, getting the fastest time on the first track of Super Hang-On, one-life runs of Donkey Kong Country and more. Although it would have been nice to see a few more current options, there was no shortage of fun to be had in the game room.

Art stood out as the hottest commodity among FanQuest vendors, as creators both amateur and professional moved drawings, posters, sculptures, comics and dolls into the hands of an eager public. Most of the vendors we spoke to directly told us that their booths had been a success despite the lower than average turnout, leading us to conclude that most attendees were able to find the paraphernalia that was right for them.

Final Thoughts

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What this year's FanQuest lacked in size and scope, it more than made up for in quality. Guests, vendors, and patrons all seemed able to find something to their liking and while the venue held certain restrictions we were genuinely impressed by the number of high quality features the staff was able to fill it with. We came out of our two days at FanQuest with a better understanding of how to cosplay, several beautiful art prints, a Mewtwo amiibo and an artbook from famous toy photographer Daniel Picard (the latter two having been prizes earned from the aforementioned Alien Syndrome and Super Hang-On contests respectively). But most of all, we came away with the experience of seeing vastly different fandoms mingling in an environment that was equally inclusive to each of them.

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Author: Will Bertazzo Lambert

I’m a 22 year old writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba who does fiction, media critique and everything in between, currently studying English and rhetoric. I have influences ranging all the way from Henry James, to Stephen Greenblatt to Nintendo Power and after years of fanatical devotion to the coverage of anime and video games, I've finally tossed my hat into the ring and decided to give writing a try for myself. Will this be the dawn of a lifelong career or a small footnote on an otherwise unrelated life? Only time will tell, but I would like nothing more than to have you join me on the journey to discovering the answer.

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