Just as #FightforWynonna—the fan-driven campaign to get the show Wynonna Earp back on track after financial woes of production company IDW Entertainment shut things down—was going on four months, the season for show-specific fan conventions kicked off with EarpExpo in New Orleans.
Held last month at the New Orleans Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center, EarpExpo brought fans—aka Earpers—from around the world together to meet showrunner and writer Emily Andras, and show stars Melanie Scrofano, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Kat Barrell, Michael Eklund, Varun Saranga, Dani Kind, Meghan Heffern, and Kate Drummond. The three-day event was full of photo and autograph opportunities, meet & greets, panels, parties, shopping options, and more fun.
Since Expo, IDW announced [on July 2] that a financing solution was found and Wynonna Earp was back in business, and the time for the next con—EhCon in Toronto—has drawn nearer. But the glow of EarpExpo still lingers in friendships and memories made, as evident by continued social media posts from fans lamenting the people they met and fun they had in the Big Easy.
It was the inaugural edition of EarpExpo, and it did what the first of anything hopes to do: It set the bar, both for the other Wynonna Earp cons of 2019, and for itself, when it returns for round two next year.
The weekend was not without its hiccups. For one, the microphones and audio at the panels frequently glitched. For another, things ran off-schedule and different events had to be shuffled around, and there was also a seating plan failure—the plan to have assigned seating with the con badges did not work in the opening ceremony and was quickly abandoned.
Additionally, it wasn’t always clear where people should be lined up for one actor vs. another when it came to the photo ops, selfies, and autograph lines. And, perhaps the most glaring issue (at least in this writer’s opinion) was with the Saturday night “Masquerade Bourbon & Beignets” party. The DJ was awful, plus the bar didn’t accept cards—in a hotel where the sole ATM wasn’t working, so it was quite frustrating.
However, there was a lot more to love about the con than to gripe about. Everything that was supposed to happen ultimately happened, even if at different times. The organizers (and cast/Andras) were extremely accommodating—giving people who didn’t make it into a selfie or autograph session, due to extreme demand and limited time, post-its to come back at the next session and get priority access, to ensure that everyone got to see the celebrity guests they wanted to see.
“I've just heard so many stories of people missing their photo op or people having to catch a plane and not having time for a photo op or missing—being late for their meet and greet, and at any other con, you would just be out of luck, [but Expo], the con people and the photo people and the cast, everybody's accommodated all of these special circumstances,” said Heidi Garinger, speaking to StarsandCelebs.com on the last day of Expo, about her experience as a con-goer. “This whole weekend has just been about kindness and being an Earper.”
The Marriott was situated well enough, on the outskirts of the French Quarter but with eateries and such within a walkable distance, and hotel staff was warm and welcoming throughout—word is, some even started watching Wynonna Earp after the con and have themselves become Earpers on social media.
What’s more, the panels were all smash hits.
Moderators Bonnie Ferrar and Kevin Bachelder asked fresh, original questions—which gets harder to do with each con Andras and the stars attend—and consistently incorporated a blend of funny, light questions, deep and weighty questions, as well as questions about both the actors and their characters.
And Andras and the stars were their usual wildly charming selves, if not better than ever. They were raw and unfiltered—dropping f-bombs and curses like they were just chatting at a bar with old friends. The were open and vulnerable, sharing their own insecurities, fears, and internal journeys they’ve had with the show. They were goofy and game for everything, and they never missed an opportunity to shower genuine love and praise on the fans, from Eklund talking about how if he gets into a tiff with anyone on social media, he knows he has an “Earp Army” that will come to his defense, to Andras and several of her stars remarking how ingenious the billboard campaign idea was, to Dani Kind telling everyone they are the “wittiest bunch of fucking people,” in reference to the cardboard cutout of herself that a group of Earpers brings to cons, and what they write on it as quotes.
In addition to the top-notch questions and effortlessly charming celebrities making the panels special, the panel concepts all felt sufficiently original—both the main events and the fan-led panels.
Cat Zimm, one of the panelists for Drunk Earp History, was grateful the con hosts allowed them to put it on, and appreciated the fans who attended.
“They were a great audience who were very responsive to the train wreck they were watching, so that was great,” said Zimm, who made the trip to the con from her home in Chicago.
She added that star Kate Drummond joining them on stage as a surprise guest meant a lot, too.
“We were not expecting her to just jump right in and she totally did,” said Zimm. “We would serve it up for her and she would just spike it down. She was a riot. It was awesome.”
Being on the panel made the con extra special for Zimm, who’s been to about three other Wynonna Earp cons, but there were other elements of EarpExpo she found unique and exciting as well.
“The fact that I felt comfortable enough to get drunk in front of a lot of people for our panel speaks to the trust and love that this convention fostered a lot,” said Zimm, 26. “So, hats off to the organizers for that, because it just felt like a good safe space to be myself and be inebriated.”
She also noted that she met a lot of first timers, and she enjoyed seeing them experience their first Wynonna Earp con.
Follow Zimm on Twitter at @cimzim
Here’s what some other folks had to say about EarpExpo, while on site during the last day of the con.
Second Earp con
On some things she’s done at the con
I just got out of a meet-and-greet with Meghan [Heffern]. The photo ops, the usual autographs, hooking up with people—not in that way [laughs]—but meeting up with people that are in group chats on Twitter and stuff.
On her favorite part of EarpExpo
Definitely the energy, wherever I’ve been. It doesn’t matter if there’s some little things bothering me, you get in a room full of Earpers and it’s like, “all right, cool.” Like the cast photo I did… and in the lobby, in the lines, it doesn’t feel awful waiting because you’re with people that are fun. You meet people from different continents and countries and states. It's just really awesome. I really enjoy that aspect of it.
Second Earp con
On what brought her to EarpExpo
I had a great time at Earpapalooza [October 2018] and then my friends [whom I met there], we all made a pact, and we’re all rooming together [at Expo] and just making a little reunion of it.
On her previous con experience
I’ve been to Comic Con several times and just various other cons but I just love the smallness of how the Earp cons are and just that sense of community.
On advice for fans who’ve never done a con but want to
Just start with the smaller ones, and make friends in line to just pass the time—you could make friends for a lifetime.
On one of her favorite moments of Expo weekend
Me and my friends went out to dinner a few nights ago and we actually stumbled upon the cast at the same restaurant. We were like, “wow, this is the reason why we're all together in the first place.” So, we actually talked it over with the waitress and we asked if we could pay their bill as a way to say thank you for everything because we wouldn't be friends without them.
Second Earp con
On what made her want to go to her first Earp Con, EHCon 2018
When Mel [Scrofano] came to Australia, I went to a small one there and saw her there and was like “that’s amazing, I’d love to meet all the cast,” and so me and a bunch of friends just decided we would go to EHCon, just thought it would be really fun.
On what’s been her favorite part of her second con, Expo
I think obviously meeting the cast, but then also meeting all the other Earpers from all over and just making heaps of new friends. Just everyone's so lovely.
First Earp con
On how she heard about Expo
Through friends, being in the South, I met up with the EarpExpo crew last year, so I heard about it when we had a little get together with them.
On what she thinks of Expo
I think it's very well put together, all the panels. I loved the Drunk panel last night, because I got to see friends interacting. It was a lot of fun. So, it's been a great con, I got to meet a lot of great people and spend time with friends.
First Earp Con
On a favorite experience or activity she did during Expo
I did a meet and greet with Melanie. I've never spent money on something like that before and I went for it, I never thought I would get it because you have to be so fast just to get the spot. But I got one and… it was just a lot of fun. You had 30 minutes with just a few people and Melanie, and she was great and funny and everything you think she would be.
All in all, the overwhelming consensus of EarpExpo was that it got 2019 con season off to a good start, and left big shoes for other cons to fill. It remains to be seen if each con will be as good or better than the one before it, or if EarpExpo will be the Earpiest Earp [con] of them all.
Tune in to social media to see what Earpers have to say about other cons throughout the year. Other 2019 Earp cons slated for 2019 include EhCon and Earpapalooza. For a list of more Earp cons around the world, or Earp cast appearances at larger cons, click here.
To stay up to date on EarpExpo 2020, follow them on Twitter at @EarpExpo.