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[Event Review] FAN EXPO CLEVELAND Brings A Family-Friendly Event To Town

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Conventions and fandom are two things that have been a part of my family life for a very long time – my wife and I always took our daughters and now that they are grown – we take the grandkids. We work most of the shows we attend, selling for various filmmakers but this weekend we attended as invited press and took my 14-year-old grandson Steven along.

FAN EXPO CLEVELAND is unlike most conventions – their theme is FANDOM – there are horror people, comic people, anime people, pop culture people, cosplay people, gaming people, artists, authors, and crafty folks – it’s a literal hodgepodge of fandom and you don’t know what awaits you around every corner – which I found to be well – amazing.

I’ve attended this show many times – starting way back when it was known as Wizard World and it has been interesting watching the show morph and grow over the years and I have to say – this year’s event was one of the finest they’ve thrown.

Sporting a guest list as eclectic as their promises this show featured Sam Raimi, Elijah Wood, Danny Trejo, Brent Spiner, Rose McGowen, Randy Quaid, and a bunch of voice and anime guests – including Maile Flanagan, who is the voice of NARUTO and the person my grandson was most excited to meet.

The show is held in the heart of downtown Cleveland at the Huntington Convention Center – a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that is perfect for a gathering of this nature.

The show entrance routine was a bit odd – requiring you to register your badge after you got it at the ticket booth. In our case, my Grandson had purchased his ticket in advance through the show website – he had been sent a QR code which we presented at registration – he was then given a card and we were sent on our way. As we were standing there – attempting to figure out where the entrance to the show floor was, we heard a lady on a bullhorn instructing everyone that they must “scan in, and activate their card before accessing the show floor”. Hanging all around on the walls were more QR codes which you had to scan – enter the number off the card you were given, enter all your personal information – including an email address to which yet another code was sent that needed to be entered to fully activate the card. It was a bit clumsy and time-consuming, and try as they might to convince you otherwise – confusing.

After figuring all that out we were then able to be scanned and gain admittance to the actual show – but let me tell you, it was well worth the effort.

FAN EXPO CLEVELAND is a slick show – once we got past the whole “being able to get in” portion, the rest of the show was flawless. That card, once activated, gets you into everything, all the panels, the fan events, everything. Volunteers with scanners are everywhere – they were all very friendly and helpful at every turn. The show has one of the largest vendor spaces I’ve ever walked. I can’t say it’s the biggest but – it has to be close – and the array of items up for sale is certainly as varied as it is amazing. You need the entire three-day event to lay eyes on everything that is being offered.

The celebrities are located in the same room as all the vendors but are at the back end of the center. Unlike some other shows – the A-list celebs are easily accessible, not locked away in some remote area of the event – which I like. The autograph lines are organized and move swiftly but at no point did I ever feel like we were being rushed along – we were able to spend time conversing and visiting with every celebrity guest we visited.

The programming for FAN EXPO CLEVELAND is also first class featuring panels and Q and A sessions with all the big celeb names as well as small, more personal gatherings with some of the boutique names. We attended the session with Maile Flanagan and we found her to be personable, entertaining, and hilarious. These opportunities to spend some quality one-on-one time with your heroes are one the things that set this show apart from so many others. While moderated – they are not scripted and the talent interacts with their fanbase. They do these sessions right – I highly recommend participating in one should the opportunity present itself.

There is zero downtime at this show – always something fun and interesting going on. They had a live 5 or 6-piece orchestra performing on the show floor – at one point there were dancers in costume performing – something happening no matter which way you looked.

Regardless of your interest – there was something to interest you – and that is what makes it stand out from some of the other area cons – fandom is to be celebrated and it should be celebrated with other fans, regardless of the genre – FAN EXPO CLEVELAND gives you that outlet. If you’ve been on the fence about attending – jump off that fence – this is some must-attend stuff and while it’s too late to do anything about it this year – the 2025 show has already been announced and will be at the Huntington Convention Center March 21st – 23rd. Get those day off requests in when you head back to work on Monday.

Dave Dreher
Dave Dreherhttp://www.neomusicscene.com
NEO born and raised - Dave is an avid fan of music, Metal beings his genre of choice but he has also been known to be seen at pop, easy listening, and country shows. Dave is also an avid horror movie fan.

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