This article is presented in partnership with Leftfield Media and Big Easy Con.
It isn’t enough to throw a party in New Orleans; it has to be done the right way, in a style befitting the Crescent City. And that’s a big part of why the Big Easy Con pop culture event by Leftfield Media announced its inaugural show would be moved from June to November 1-3, 2019.
That’s according to Ron Brister, co-founder of Leftfield Media, who joined Den of Geek to discuss these changes, and to ensure that the “big” in Big Easy would be even bigger due to the November date.
“New Orleans is a vibrant, highly artistic community with a level of artisans, and crafters in the area that rivals most of the nation,” says Brister. “And the connection between New Orleans and fandom is pretty sticky with its relationships to the macabre, and vampires, and as a home to great authors, storytelling, rich street art, huge cosplay, parades, and pageantry — all things that line up with comic cons and fits perfectly into what we’re passionate about and celebrate.”
“But sometimes — whether you’re a 30-year-old event company or a start-up, and I’ve been in both – you have miscalculations,” he adds.
Brister says Leftfield always wanted to have a three-day show in New Orleans, although it did settle on the initial two-day event. However he says they heard “loud and clear” that the time frame was tough for vendors. Additionally, he admits the June date also put Big Easy opposite Denver Comic Con, which he calls a national show, and that created challenges in “attracting the level of guests we expect to bring to our shows.”
“When you’re trying to attract the biggest, brightest comic guests, doing a three-day convention versus a two-day convention makes a lot more sense to them, financially, because that is a pretty big chunk of income,” Brister says. “I wouldn’t try to persuade them to do our show over Denver, because that was a better show to do.”
“We made a tough decision,” he says. “We decided this was not the show the community would want, and not something from a brand perspective we’d be proud of for a two-day show.”
But the move has allowed Leftfield to re-focus energy to November’s Big Easy Con to make it the best possible event in New Orleans, he says. He acknowledges that the move also requires the organization to re-establish trust with the community.
“We knew we weren’t going to get high fives for it, but we knew it was the right decision,” Brister says. “When we make mistakes, we own up to them, and within the community, the most important part is the artist alley, and maker’s market.”
To earn that trust back, Leftfield has refunded table expenses to all those impacted by the date change, and have offered the same space for free during the November event. According to Brister the move is because he wants those vendors to be part of their community with as little risk as possible.
“It wasn’t their fault we needed to move the dates; that is 100 percent on us.”
Moreover, he adds the con continues to partner with Urban South Brewing (just a mile from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where Big Easy will be held), and have an event there May 31 “to meet up with the community, and tell them we’re not abandoning the market.” Plus, they will continue to have meetups in the area throughout November to build momentum.
Though the date change has unfortunately led to the event losing John Barrowman as guest, due to the Doctor Who and Arrow actor’s prior commitment (“So we’ll have to bring John back,” says Brister), the date change has also allowed unique opportunities for Big Easy that weren’t available for the original June setting.
For instance, now the event is able to bring on board Shazam’s Zachary Levi as a headline guest.
“We chased Zachary Levi for a little while, but we waited too long, and Denver got him,” Brister says. “We were super bummed out about it because he’s not only a hot movie property, but a genuinely nice person, so when we decided we were going to move the date, he was the first person we went after.”
Additionally, Brister says November has allowed the event to pursue tentpole talent that weren’t otherwise available, and which will be announced shortly. He notes that the new date is on the other side of large-scale events New York Comic Con, and no longer right before San Diego Comic-Con International. Meanwhile, some actors have lighter production schedules during that time.
“All the difficulties we were having in getting people in June, we’re not facing in November,” he says, before adding with a laugh that, “I had some people who wanted to come to New Orleans, but don’t like to sweat, and didn’t want to go in June!”
“At the end of the day, our guest list will be stronger than it was in June, and from a programming perspective, we were 100 percent ready to go, so we’ll have even better content, and polish what we were working on.”
Brister also emphasizes the event’s focus on the family-first Big Easy Con Jr. programming, and Future Con, which includes conversations on science, and science fiction, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Smithsonian magazine.
So while Big Easy Con still promises to be a hot show, the new November 1-3, 2019, date also makes it cooler due to nicer New Orleans weather. And Ron Brister of Leftfield Media says to stay tuned, because the Big Easy will now be bigger than before with upcoming announcements.
Big Easy Con runs from Nov. 1-3 in New Orleans, LA. Click here for more info!