Chicago Salute to Supernatural 2016

One of the first things I ask people when I find out that they also watch/love Supernatural is if they’ve ever been or thought about going to one of the Salute to Supernatural conventions. An odd segue, perhaps, when you think of the range of conversation topics related to the show, but the experiences I’ve had there have been so utterly fantastic that I wish every fangirl could have the same. I didn’t really have someone to talk or ask questions to before I attend my first (most of what I learned was from Twitter), so maybe one day my weird first question will help someone else. You never know!

But anywho, let me get to the point of this post. Last weekend was spent with my sister in our favorite city of Chicago attending our second Salute to Supernatural convention. We (and by we I mean I since  I’m the travel planner in our sistership) decided to go up a day early to make a stop at our favorite pizza place and do a little shopping. I planned everything out so we’d be at the hotel with plenty of time register for the con and relax for the evening. It ups the expense paid for the weekend with the extra night’s stay, but it can a huge difference to being rested, relaxed, and ready to start off the con come the next morning. We also used Thursday evening to plan out the next three days, highlighting our schedules to clearly mark when panels, photo ops, and autographs were scheduled. This also shows us when there are breaks long enough to squeeze in a food run. If you now anything about me, I’m always thinking about when I’m going to get my next meal, and cons are no different.

The later start to Friday (a little after 12:00 noon), was a blessing as I didn’t get to sleep until around 2:00am local time. My sister and I also indulged with ordering room service for breakfast that morning as we had the most time to burn and because “treat yo self!” We made sure to grab the 2016 Friday Person shirt before settling into our seats at the main stage.

We kicked off the day with yet another hilarious welcome by Richard Speight Jr, Rob Benedict, and Louden Swain. These weekends would truly not be the same without them. The Friday programming consisted of Alaina Huffman, Julian Richings, Jason Manns, and Osric Chau.  The panels were all amazing. I was really excited for Julian’s panel; Death has been one of my favorite minor characters on the show and I was looking forward to hearing more from the actor that brought him to life. Julian is really funny; he’s been in the business for so long and has done so many things that he had great anecdotes. One thing I found particular interesting was his perspective on character acting and the realization of the talent needed to do what he does so well. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect at Jason’s panel. But oh my gosh he was great! He is so funny and so talented. Afterwards my sister commented that I had enjoyed more that I was expecting and she was 100% right. I really hope to see him at more cons. He may not be on the show but is definitely part of the SPN Family. Last up for the day was Osric, and I always look forward to his panels. I find him so inspiring, not only in his work as an actor but in his passion for the things he loves. He’s so down to earth and completely relatable. We had autographs with Osric that night and he had almost a 3 minute conversation with him about Pokemon Go. It was a great ending to a great day.

Saturday was a bit of an earlier start, and with myself being an early riser, I was designated to make the morning Dunkin Donuts. The morning panels featured Emily Swallows and Osric again. This was Emily’s first stateside convention and I thought she did great. She was very funny and handled the questions she was asked beautifully. There was a mass exodus between her and Osric’s panels, which of course Rich and Rob made sure to comment on. It then became a running joke for the rest of the weekend. We stayed around, of course, and once again Osric did not disappoint. After the panel, my sister was able to deduce that I may have a bit of a crush on him. She’s not going to forget that anytime soon.

The afternoon panels kicked off with Mark Sheppard. His panels are seriously so entertaining. His snark, his good natured ribbing, and his purposely not answering some questions kept me in stiches the entire time. Mark is truly a treasure to this fandom. Rich, Rob, and Matt Cohen were up next. I don’t even know what to say about these three. You never know what they are going to do or say. If there was ever a trio of people that could take over the world, it might just be them. I know that they would at least have hundreds of thousands of fangirls to back them up. Last but definitely not least was Misha Collins. Let me start off by saying that I personally was a bit disappointed after Misha’s panel last year. It was through no fault of his own but through the questions he was asked. This year was a complete 180° and I was so pleased. I walked away from the afternoon panels with my sides hurting from laughing so much. The Saturday Night Special was spectacular as always. Jensen didn’t show this year, but a great point that my sister brought up back in room later that night was that it just shows how special it is when he does. Instead of the traditional Carry On My Wayward Son to close the show, they did a tribute cover of Prince’s Purple Rain, which was a great surprise and wonderfully performed.

Sunday was our earliest wakeup of the weekend and also our most jam packed and exciting. But what a way it was to start it off, that is, by having a photo op with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. From there we went straight to the Gold Panel with Jensen and Jared. I found myself sitting there, vibrating with excitement to see ‘the boys’ again. Those 30 minutes fly by way too quickly and then it was time for Nikki to head down for her solo op with Jensen while I headed up to the room to get our stuff for autographs with JDM. My photo op with Jared was next, and although I don’t have the jpeg yet, let me tell you that I was over the moon.

The afternoon panels started off with JDM. Looking back, I think I laughed literally the entire time. His answered to some of the over-the-top questions seriously gave me life. Between his sarcasm, swearing, and at times adorable bewilderment, I found him so endearing. And I will never think of rigatoni again without giggling to myself. Jensen and Jared followed, and again, I was reminded of why I love this show so much. It’s an indescribable feeling, really. Jensen and Jared work so hard and do so much for this fandom. The time that they take out of their both their professional and personal schedules to do these cons leaves me with a sense of utter and complete gratitude that is not easily expressed. It’s unusually hard to put words to a day that, for me, is spent on Cloud Nine. I think that is why I always urge fellow fans that if you can make it work, go to a con, because you won’t regret it. The day was capped off by autographs with Jensen and Jared, both of which went extraordinarily well for my sister and I. Besides with photo ops, it’s the most interaction with them and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Sunday is also the deadline to decide if you are going to re-up for the same seats or try for better at next year’s con. Going into it, I had already told myself that I wouldn’t be going in 2017 in order to attend other cons. But when Nikki raised the discussion Saturday night, it was decided that we would come back. After all, it’s the one big thing that she and I do together, and it’s the only con that I get to enjoy with another person. But between Saturday night and Sunday midmorning, I got too much into my own head and started to regret on the decision (financially). This doesn’t happen often, but I was making myself sick trying to figure out what to do, and once I get to a certain point of over-analyzation and back-and-forth, it becomes almost impossible for me to see clearly. My sister of course saw right through and said that she wasn’t mad if I wasn’t comfortable saying yes right now to re-up. And even when I said yes, go turn in the papers, she wouldn’t do it. But, typical Lindsey, I continued this inner monologue to the point that when Nikki left to go grab our carry-out from Fridays, I called my mom on the verge of tears. I explained everything to her and how I was feeling, and as always, she came through. I’m hardwired a bit differently than my sister, and my mom understands that, so while she didn’t say anything drastically different than what had already been said, she knew how to reach that sensible part of me.  Once Nikki got back and we started eating, I had to make her understand that I was saying yes to re-up and it wasn’t out of guilt. So I told her that I talked to mom and that my future regret in not attending next year would outweigh any worry I have about my financial wellbeing. All of my nausea and worry immediately dissipated. So while I raced down to my photo op with Jared she turned in our re-up forms. And it paid off because we were able to get seats in Row F, despite being number 55 and 56 in line to try and get better seats!

Oh, I forgot to mention, I managed to give my contact card to one person, a sweet girl who happened to be from Indianapolis that we first met in line during registration and that I happened to run into on the way to checkout Monday morning. I still have a lot of nerves to overcome in order to extend my network of contacts and friends, but some progress is better than no progress!

So there you go. Another successful Salute to Supernatural Con in the bag and another one scheduled for July. I’ll be making a few adjustments to my potential con schedule for 2017 but I don’t regret having to do that one bit.

If you have any questions about attending an SPN con (especially the one in Chicago), let me know. There’s a lot of moving parts and lots going on, so it can be daunting trying to figure it all out the first time around. I’m more than happy to talk about it and answer any questions!