I have attended every single Brickfair in Virginia since it began in 2008. We started with a core little group of BZP staffies which I was quick to join, being promoted to staff while at Brickfair itself that first year. What a crazy ride it's been since then!
We're down to just two of those first handful of Brickfair folks these days, just Andrew and myself. This has sort of made me sad, and probably him a little too, but something about this year sort of turned that around for me.
For a long time after Brickfair became the de facto BIONICLE convention for BZPers and, let's be honest, our staff members, there was a silly/serious east coast conventions vs west coast conventions rivalry, and some weird cliquey things kind of happened. Not only in the different coastal cons, but also within the Brickfair group itself, as we hit critical mass of like thirty to forty members at Brickfair in 2011.
I mean, splinter groups are natural, and even now at Brickfair VA we seemingly have two distinct, yet intermingled, groups. The older group, and a group of younger members. We all intermingle at big BZP events, laser tag, dinner, etc, but let's not pretend here- they are two different levels of friendship, and that's okay. What wasn't okay was the exclusivity a lot of us openly yet secretly practiced at these conventions for a long time. It probably started with us just wanting to continue spending quality time with the friends we already had, as for many years Brickfair was our only reunion. And since you spend all year looking forward to seeing those friends, it becomes harder to let other folks into that circle. The fact that our circle was most of the BZP hierarchy was a sad coincidence, and that we were mostly only Brickfair attendees an unfortunate one.
First, I want to apologize for purposefully supporting some of this stuff. I really really like almost everyone I ever meet. I'm aware that sometimes my writing has a tendency to come across abrasive, rude, and hostile, not to mention smug and condescending. It's not (usually) on purpose- I'm a person of strong beliefs, strong opinions, but also one who really really likes getting to know people. I've had so many folks in the last seven years tell me they couldn't believe how different in person I was from what they expected after interacting or just watching my posts online. This is tragic to me, and something I've tried so hard for years to counteract. I think at times I'm just too sassy for my own good, and I'm sorry for that too.
But the thing is, us wanting to just spend time with our friends turned very quickly into a number of us (not Andrew, who I want to make a strong statement here is the best possible public face for BZP and our staff and our community you could ever imagine) purposefully excluding certain people simply because they had been a west coast con person, or because they were on the bad end of one of our group. I can't count the number of times I've had people in my friend circle over the years say "oh no, person x is coming, let's go avoid them, I don't like them".
I'm sorry for that, and I'm sorry for going along with that. I've tried really really hard not to do that the last few years, and I think this convention finally broke it down for me. There are, naturally, going to be people in your lives you don't enjoy being around, and there are still people at Brickfair, Brickcon, BricksCascade, etc, that I want to avoid at all costs, mostly because of events that have transpired in the past that aren't really BZP appropriate. But there are distinctions- those people did things morally incorrigible, things that border on the illegal or obscene. I'm not talking about that.
This year at both cons I've attended I got to break through some barriers and sit and talk with people I've known for years but never talked to. I regret the last part immensely, as some of them are quite possibly some of the best people I could ever want in my life. I mourn years of potential close relationships lost. I strive to make that a different experience in the future.
This was a weird convention for so many reasons, but this is the biggest takeaway for me. I didn't win any trophies, and honestly I don't care at all, as if I weren't a selfish human being who voted for my own MOCs, I would have easily voted for both that won, as both were higher quality than anything I brought with me. Congrats to both Jess and Trisha, your MOCs were the highlight of the BIONICLE section for me and so many others! There weren't a lot of high-profile system MOCs, and I don't think Brickfair has ever seen such low public attendance. But I got to spend time with so many good friends, in so so so so many good conversations, and I got to spend time with so many new good friends. I am especially glad for the deepening and solidifying of one friendship in particular, and I hope it is one that lasts long into the distance.
This is way more rambling than I intended and I'm not sure this is what I set out to write, which was going to be more of a retrospective on being at eight Brickfairs in VA, but this is what came out, so it's probably what needed to come out. I've been thinking about it a lot.
Anyway, basically, let's all be friends except for the small number of you who are actually bad bad people. Which is like three of you, ever, in the history of the site, probably.
TL;DR: Life is messed up, Brickfair is a good time, I'm old, yay friends.