• Member Since 23rd Mar, 2014
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Vivid Syntax

Convention Runner, Statistician, and lover of all things Soarburn

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Time for the Spectacle: Ponyville Ciderfest 2018 Con Report! · 3:00am Nov 5th, 2018

Gasp, smile, scream with joy, repeat.

Ponyville Ciderfest was a heck of a convention this year, folks, with the most ambitious theme I've ever seen at a convention: a three-day music festival with over 39(!) musicians featured over the weekend, and that's not even counting the special guests. Not only that, but we promised music during the entire convention, and we delivered: there was always music to hear, whether it was in the concerts, on the Apple Orchard Renegade stage, and even in the panel rooms. We set out to create a convention with memories that will last a lifetime, and I'm incredibly proud to say that we succeeded.

Let's get to the behind-the-scenes, shall we?


I was the Programming Director again this year, which basically meant I was ultimately in charge of a team of managers that run Mane Events (headed by Cowboy Dave), Video Gaming (Frederick), Kids' Room (Lora), Music (Forest Rain), Tabletop Gaming (David D), and AV (Larscis & Lost Disk). One great thing about this team is that they're absurdly good at what they do, and most of my job consisted of checking in, taking care of hotel issues, and letting them be their brilliant selves (and they really are brilliant). In addition to that, I was also the Special Events head, which meant I take care of the Pub Trot, Cosplay Contest, Charity Auction, and events like those. As an aside: if any of these sound interesting and you want to volunteer, let me know! I'm happy to go more in-depth on what each department does and needs.

The team worked harder on this convention than any that's come before it, and before we get too deep, I need to say a huge thank-you to Forest Rain (Music Department Head), and Larscis & Lost Disk (AV Department Head/Assistant Head). They were given a crazy amount of work to do to prepare, and they absolutely killed it. Special shout-out to Lost Disk, who stepped up when real life prevented Larscis from being at the con and who was my go-to during the whole convention.


My good, good friend Charlie D. (not the con chair) and I road-tripped at around 9-ish to drive from Minneapolis to Milwaukee. We learned from last year that we cannot drive after work on either Wednesday or Thursday, because it takes too much of a toll and results in speeding tickets. Luckily, the drive out there was smooth sailing. We chatted basically the whole way out there and stopped at the nicest Arby's ya' ever did see.

I said hi to a few folks once we got to the hotel, including my friend Thomas that was here for the convention from France, and then I immediately went up to the hotel room to sleep. This ended up being a very wise and yet very poor choice.

See, the thing about putting together a Pub Trot is that it's helpful to know the city. I haven't been to Milwaukee since last year, so I didn't know that, say, a certain bridge was out on our route and that we'd have to walk an extra three blocks. :facehoof: Next year, I'll drive the route first before I take a nap. Also, nobody said anything about a wrong turn right out of the hotel. Why would you even bring that up? :twilightblush:

But hiccups aside, we had a ton of fun. Over 80 people came along with us, and there was a special surprise that, to my knowledge, has never been done at any other con: two of our Pub Trot stops had Brony musicians playing at them! Ale Asylum and Mo's Irish Pub were gracious enough to let us bring our own musicians and setup, meaning that the first concert of #PVCF18 was DoTheDaringDew at Ale Asylum, joined by Luck Rock! Hearing a real-life bar all sing along with "Don't Mine At Night" was a trip, and Seventh Element did a fantastic job at our upstairs, more intimate space at our last stop of the evening. The audience loved them all, too (gasp, smile, scream with joy, repeat).

Great work, Dewey! If it looks like I'm exhausted, it's because I am.

After five bars in five hours, everyone was beat, and Charlie D (who was basically my handler for the whole evening and several parts of the con – THANK YOU!!!!) and I crashed into bed at 12:30 AM.


...and then I woke up at 5:30. Breaking the 6-2-1 rule ended up being a theme of the day.

I can't complain, though. A lot of the staff, including part of the AV team as well as Video Gaming and Kids' (and certainly many others), stayed up late (and in AV's case, literally all night) to set things up in time. Because I'm not super technical, the best I could really do was move stuff around and grab breakfast for the folks that had been working so hard to get everything in place in time. Again, I can't stress enough what an amazing, dedicated team we have. Please hug them and give them coffee.

These fine folks!

At around 10 AM, I got to meet my Special Events team for the first time.


I'm freaking blessed to have had Fluff Brain, Kimmi, and Jenn on the team this year (plus special guest Cowboy Dave!). If I could have them for every convention, I absolutely would. To help ensure everything got done in time, I gave each of them a few of the special events to help oversee, and they all went smoothly (almost suspiciously so, but I'm not going to question it :rainbowlaugh:).

Opening Ceremonies started with a big musical number starring Charlie Worthley and the musicians (a take on "We Got This Together"), and it only got more exciting from there. I was in the back for a lot of it and got called away for part of it, but everything I saw made me finally feel like all the things we'd set out to do were possible.

At 2pm, the first autograph session started. Fluff Brain was on autograph duty all weekend, and he did an incredible job – both me and Guest Relations Director Michelle Worthley loved working with him. Rebecca Shoichet's line ended up being the longest, but it all got handled, and the first session gave me a ton of confidence in Fluff's ability to handle it on his own (which ended up freeing a ton of brainpower).

Before I forget: I need to talk about all the cool stuff that Charlie Worthley gifted to the directors (we'd make a heck of a band) this year. We got a custom badge, an etched water bottle, and a SUPER handy drawstring bag to carry all our stuff around in. All of mine featured my OC, Vivid, as realized by the incredibly hard-working Sweet Cream. The clothes are based on my favorite music style (modern alternative pop-rock like Bastille, the Killers, Florence+, etc.), and Vivid has never looked sexier.

Charlie is too good to us.

Seriously. It's borderline upsetting how good he looks. I mean, look at those eyes!


Thanks again to Charlie for the beautiful gifts. They mean a ton, and I love them so, so much. :heart:

As I was prepping to give a panel, my husband showed up! Yay!

He's such a sweetie. :heart:

He's never never been to an MLP convention before, but he came to support me and to help celebrate my 30th birthday.

I should also probably mention that the Friday of the convention was my 30th birthday. Sometimes I wonder about my life choices, but honestly, there's no better way I can think to spend my time on Earth than making others happy. :heart:

The panel, "Start to Finish: How to Begin and End Your Story" was a good one. I was on it with Coffee Minion and Dr. Thallium, and while I think we could have been a little more prepared, it went well overall, and there was a lot of great discussion. Through researching for the panel, I've learned a lot about my own stories, and now I'm kicking myself for not starting Sensation off with the words, "Don't stare at his legs." Thanks again to Coffee and Thallium for picking up my slack with the panel creation, and I look forward to working with you again soon!

You can see us here, paneling.

My staffer Jenn took very, very good care of the Bake-Off while I was in the panel room, and I heard it all went very well. Thanks again for covering all that, Jenn (you're amazing and energetic and able to somehow keep up with my 1000-mile-per hour talking speed, which is a miracle), and thanks to The Brony Chef, Dusty, and BronyBrewer for being our judges!

The Gala got up and running (thanks Registration Head Chris for helping with ticketing all weekend!), and once it was going, I didn't have to do anything, which is my favorite thing. Kimmi was on-point as our cosplay medic, and I saw her help lots and lots of people with repairing costumes. It's a brilliant idea, and we loved having her on hoof (that one's for you, Charlie :raritywink:).

I finally got breakfast at around 8:30 in the evening (LOL 6-2-1), helped out a bit with things throughout the night, and then finally got to go and relax up in the Vue (the hotel-top bar with a 360-degree view of Milwaukee) with friends.

...sort of. Charlie Worthley pulled me aside to ask for my help with a very, very special project coming next summer. We'll get to that later, but suffice to say, I gasped, smiled, and screamed with joy.


Saturday got started with a bang: our first event of the day was the Guest of Honor panel, which featured our guests reading an original script written by me! I am overwhelmingly honored and humbled to have been asked to write a script for a third time (the previous two were featured at Whinny City). Charlie puts a ton of trust in me with these (he doesn't even read them beforehoof (that one was for me)), and getting to write something that professional voice actors read in front of a crowd is beyond my wildest dreams.

And this script slayed. The guests all did a phenomenal job with the delivery, the jokes all landed, and everything about it felt just right (especially the narration – you were awesome, Daniel!). The audience loved it, too, and I can't tell you how many people stopped me afterwards to say that this was the best script reading they've ever seen. Again, a GIANT thank-you to all the guests for playing along with us, especially to Michelle and Gabe, who helped with the song that everyone, including the audience, got to sing in the middle of it (seriously, you should come to the Saturday GOH panels at our cons). Thanks also to Lochlan O'Neil, who stepped in at the last minute to play Caramel and was freaking awesome at it. Also, I owe a massive debt of gratitude to Monique Creber, who helped coordinate the song and the script with all of our guests. Thank you again so much for all your help.

While riding that high, I got my copy of the script signed by everyone (thanks again for taking care of the line, Fluff!). I'm incredibly grateful I got to thank each of the guests for their work with the script. The amount of stuff they do for our conventions is mind-boggling, and we're very lucky our favorite show has such kind, enthusiastic people voicing it. Y'all are treasures, and in case you're reading, I LOVED your hat, Willa!

Kimmi was an all-star with the cosplay contest, not only with getting things printed ahead of time, but helping manage the line, get everything into place, and being a loud voice on top of a chair when necessary. We couldn't have done it without your expertise. There were tons of breathtaking cosplays this year, and I'm so thankful to Lochlan, Sophie, and Pastel for being our judges. We actually finished ahead of schedule, which in the convention world is worth more than gold.

Fluff handled yet another autograph session (thank youuuuuu!!!) so we could wrap up some of the prep in the Charity Auction room (again, big props to Jenn and Kimmi for handling things so, so well), and honestly, a lot of Saturday is a blur by this point. The Nightmare Nights crew got together for a picture, and I remember I got to just sit and chat with Zari, Xargos, Charlie D, Thomas, Lycan, and Ivy for a bit, which was one of my favorite moments of the con. Big thank-you to my husband for helping me remember to eat all day Saturday, too.

NMND Memorial Gathering. Someone! Kick my butt until I make this a postcard for the waitresses!

There was some more random volunteering, some AMAZING beers and whiskeys from Lost Disk and Lycan, some karaoke ("When You Were Young" by the Killers is my standby, since Tony Fleecs (who was running karaoke (thanks, Tony! It was tons of fun)) unfortunately didn't have Bastille's "Quarter Past Midnight"), and some tear-down of the Vue space at around 1:30 AM. Dave was incredibly helpful during this time as well, taking care of a lot of other things around the hotel that needed attention. Thanks again, Dave! Dream team!

It was around that time that I realized the convention was almost over, and I flopped into bed.


We screened "The Best Gift Ever" as our first event on Sunday morning. I got to see an interrupted ~70% of it or so, and I look forward to watching it in full once the holidays get a bit closer. From what I saw, everyone loved it (and it inspired my husband to make pudding when we got home, so that's a win!).

Almost the whole morning was dedicated to getting the Charity Auction ready. Kimmi did a great job organizing and labeling everything, Jenn helped immensely in avoiding the pitfalls of last year, Dave helped run last-minute objects to get signed by the guests, and Fluff took care of the autograph line so I could focus on the auction items. I'm going to keep saying this: my staff was amazing.

And that charity auction, y'all. DustyKatt was our auctioneer, and he is an absolute master at what he does. He keeps things moving, has fun with the audience, and does an excellent job of getting people to bid just a bit more. Plus, he has the endurance of a demigod – three hours on your feet and talking into a mic is a huge ask, and he did it without complaining. Big thanks to Zephyr from Mane Events, too, for helping organize everything on the table. I got a bit overwhelmed at times, and Zephyr did a great job of keeping the table stocked, keeping everything ready to be auctioned, and helping it all run smoothly.

Here are just a few of the highlights:
• The only public copy of the Saturday GOH script, signed by all the guests, sold for $800! Yay!
• We gave away gallons upon gallons of cider leftover from the cider bar. We even sold a few.
• Everyone pitched in to help Brony Chef keep his jacket, which he was willing to auction off to help us beat last year's record.
• Group-bid flag picture! We didn't quite recapture all of the magic of last year, but tons of people were eager to pitch in.
• We raised over $25,000 for Generations Against Bullying! That's 15% more than last year and an all-time record!

The generosity of this fandom never ceases to amaze.

Once that was all done, we moved right into Closing Ceremonies, which included some incredibly emotional moments for the whole convention as well as for me personally. We had our Gaming is Magic finals, some gifts for Charlie Worthley, and WeimTime's Golden Hat award for excellence in convention running as voted on by the staff, which…

Listen. I'm not a clever pony. I started to clear off the stage when WeimTime was called up, but Michelle Worthley stopped me and said something like, "No, go back up there. We want you to help present the award." Being exhausted and not very insightful, I walked back onto the stage, where it was just me, Charlie W, and WeimTime, and I had the thought, "I wonder who's getting the award this time."

A mystery for the ages

So when they announced it was me, I flipped out. I'm still reeling a bit thinking about it, and while I know there were a lot of nice things said about self-sacrifice and being a leader, I'm kind of blank on the rest of what was said. However, I do remember in vivid detail the moment I was handed the trophy with my name on it. It's absolutely beautiful, and it now sits on the center of the mantle in my house.

Told you!

I've already talked a lot about it on Twitter, but I'll say again what a huge honor it is to be recognized by a group of people that I hold in such high, high regard. In WeimTime's words, "Everybody voted for you," and I can't thank them enough for the recognition of what I'm able to contribute. Again, I am just a tiny part of the massive amount of work that goes into putting on such a huge show, and hearing that such dedicated people think I'm doing a good job is heartwarming and so far beyond what I could dream of.

Representatives from GAB (who are just the cutest people in the world, and the do such good work) said a few words, and Charlie W announced that Whinny City and Ponyville Ciderfest would be back in 2019. If you know Charlie at all, however, you know that he's always got something up his sleeve, and he got to say what I think are his favorite words: "...and one more thing."

In case you haven't seen the video, watch it here, right now, before you continue:

Gasp. Smile. Scream with Joy.

MLP-MSP is returning for one more year!

Hearing hundreds of people gasp in unison and then lose their minds is a pretty singular experience, and I'm so happy to report that I'm on staff to help make it happen next summer, June 14-16. Registration opens soon!

Vocal Score played an original song for us to close out the Closing Ceremonies, the staff gathered for the staff photo, and we brought the festivities to a close. I said my goodbyes to a few people that were heading out shortly afterwards, and I got stopped by many, many people who wanted to say hello or congratulate me on the script (thank you again to everyone that said hi – you made me feel incredibly special).

My husband took the train over the weekend, and since he had to work Monday, he had to leave before Closing Ceremonies. It's unfortunate, but I'm still so happy he could join us, and I filled him in over the phone. Love you, my Big Gay Elk. :heart:

The staff dinner that night was at Rodizio, and I got to sit with Michelle Worthley and Nolan as well as watch Charlie W smile at his Twitter account (which I can't fault him for – he's earned it and more). Michelle and I became burned meat friends, and I can't express how nice it was to just sit and talk about non-convention things. Charlie and Michelle are beautiful, generous, ineffably good people, and I look forward to keeping in touch with them long after the ride ends (spoiler: the ride shall never end).

I got to hang out in Tax's room with him, Charlie D, Zari, Thomas, Xargos, Tax's roommate, and maybe a couple more people (a beautiful blur!), and then it was off to the staff party, where Fiaura the Tank Girl made not one, but two themed drinks for me, both of which were delicious, original, and are absolutely finding a home in my liquor cabinet.

I chatted with folks for a while about some things I can't reveal yet (stay tuned!), said my goodbyes, and crashed into bed one more time.

Also there was apparently a reading of Sensation in J Haller's room at one point. #TwoAppleTwirl


After a few more last-minute convention things, I packed up my car (sort of) with Charlie D and Thomas (who was hitching a ride back to the MSP airport), and we headed for the long trip home. It went smoothly, there was good conversation with friends, there was dinner and pony in the evening, and this report is long enough that I think I can leave it at that.


A couple more quick highlights:
• Eye-C Fox giving me some wonderful Soarburn mini-dakis that are now on my keychain and that I'll have some fun conversations about in the future
• Nerding out with Couch Crusader over his Magic: The Gathering standard deck
• Spending time with my husband when we could sneak it
• Chatting with Tsitra for a bit in the Vendor Hall. That's guy's a sweetheart.
• Grabbing dinner at that BBQ place behind the hotel. New favorite!
• Fallout Boy Karaoke!

There were many, many hours poured into this convention, especially with the music theme being everywhere, and we couldn't have done it without all our staff's help. One more time, thank you to the Special Events staff. Y'all are my heroes.

And they managed to stay absurdly photogenic after 3 days of hard work!

Giant thank-you to Con Chair Charlie Worthley, who puts all of this together. I can't say enough good things about this man, and if you ever seen him, give him a hug, a thank-you, and a craft beer from your area of the country.

Ponyville Ciderfest this year was magic. There's no other way to describe it. The sheer amount of joy that I saw on the faces of countless people makes all the work and stress worth it, and I hope you'll all come gasp, smile, and scream with joy with us at all of our conventions in 2019.

Trust me. We put on one hell of a show.


An incredibly happy horse (who's about to miss his elevator)

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Comments ( 9 )

Hey, that's me in the Sunset Shimmer wig in the panel photo

Bravo and outstanding work, good sir! I thought the Saturday Script was most excellent and I am sorry I did not say so to you in person Sunday night. Absolute pleasure to meet you though and thank you again for everything you've done to make PVCF and the rest of the Charliecon lineup so much fun for a novice con-goer.

-Tax's roommate

Oi, that was some good con there. I thought our panel was pretty good; if anything, I think the main thing holding us back was the sense that we had all been running around like crazy people before hitting pause to go do the panel. :derpytongue2: But I loved the con itself, and had tons of fun. Ciderfest is shaping up to be the highlight of my year every year, so I'm glad it's back for at least one more!

Haha nice, i managed to photobomb in some pics.

Nice con report! Glad i could be part of that con and overall, that whole trip.

Best of the 5 cons I've ever been to!

Happy to hear it went great! Recognize a lot of faces in those pictures... really need to make the trip myself!

Indeed! It looked great!

Thanks, Karl! I'll update with your name. ^^

Glad you had a great time. Let's do a panel again, shall we? :raritywink:

Glad you could make it! It's always great to hear it was worth the trip.


We'd love to have you! There's Whinny City, MLP MSP, and Ciderfest to choose from.

It’s always nice to read the con reports, you make them entertaining

That was great, reading about how other cons run is cool

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