Walking into Pheasant Run resort in St. Charles Illinois on a Friday morning in mid September, one would not expect anything too out of the ordinary. The site is host to a full 18 hole golf course, a beautiful hotel and a conference center. This weekend in particular, there were plans on hosting two wedding celebrations and a business retreat for a group of General Motors executives. Fairly normal when it comes to the types of events here. But there was one other event going on that weekend that none of the others would have expected: a My Little Pony convention, named Midwestria. Look beyond the cut to read about my experience there.
Not Given Much of a Chance
Before the event opened, the feeling surrounding Midwestria was a chorus of low expectations and doubt surrounding a convention that did not have as much fanfare and hype as bigger cons such as Everfree Northwest and Bronycon. Updates for the con seemed sparse, the guest list didn’t contain what many fans of the show considered an immense amount of “Star Power” contributors to the show or the fan base to consider going, and on top of all of it, the con was set to last three days which led some to doubt that they could effectively manage to keep an interesting con going for that long.
I won’t lie when I say that I also had heavy doubts that this con would be able to provide the same level of fun and entertainment as the others I had been to. Originally, I was not even planning on going, and it was only at the behest of some friends who were attending that I decided to make the short trip. I walked into the lobby of Pheasant Run at 11 that Friday morning, about an hour before opening ceremonies were due to start, looking for registration. And with a quick question to one of the hotel staff, I was directed to the Arnold Palmer room where Con Ops was based.
I immediately got flashbacks to the registration debacle at Everfree Northwest as I was told that the badges were not available to collect because the person bringing them had not yet arrived, potentially due to the Chicago teachers strike clogging up traffic in certain parts of the city. But my fears were thankfully unfounded as the badges arrived about a half hour later, before opening ceremonies began.
In the meantime, I had met up with fellow Round Stable member Adelor Lyon and my friend/cameraman Nirvash. With nothing else to do at the time, we started exploring the con area. Aside from a few wide open rooms that were being used for panels and the Dealers Den, Pheasant Run has quite a few very nice areas including an expansive atrium that on occasion featured live music, and even a recreation of a New Orleans street, though it was barely used.
After getting our badges, we gathered in the main panel room for opening ceremonies along with a smattering of other people (including someone in a full-bodied Vinyl Scratch fursuit cosplay) It wasn’t until slightly past the intended start time that anything happened, and my boredom was held off when a nice man in front of me offered to let me try out Slenderman on his laptop. Finally, the con chair Justin Chappelle walked onto the stage, and welcomed us to the con. He gave a small speech where he thanked us for attending, and then turned over the stage to some of the guests who were sitting in the crowd to introduce themselves. One of these guests was a musician by the name of Cyril who actually had helped make a track for a video I had made previously for an obscure ask Tumblr blog based on a particularly rectangular shaped pony, as well as a few other musicians and panel guests wishing us to have fun. While people seemed upbeat, I was still having doubts how well things would turn out considering the meager attendance at opening ceremonies and the slight hiccup with the badges.