Opinions May Vary

OBLIGATORY STORY INTRO: 

It is 3am on a late Saturday night / early Sunday Morning at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, NJ at Jeff Mach’s self-proclaimed “Final Wicked Faire”. After 14 hours, I am finally retiring to my room for the night. This is done reluctantly as there are still numerous parties and social events occurring as I give in to exhaustion.

 I choose the stairs over the elevator, as there is still a slight wait even at this hour. As I proceed to the stairwell, Jeff Mach himself rockets out of the door, with clipboard in hand. This is not the first time I’ve seen him this weekend, nor was it the last. But it was by far my favorite. 

Jeff Mach’s “Final Wicked Faire” was just as magical as it was the year prior, if not more so. Even traversing the main floors and hallways, there was almost a sense of nostalgia or bittersweet regret that the 11 year long event was moving onto another evolution. Everywhere I went I heard chatter from guests discussing their first year, sharing memories and sentiments while looking forward to and enjoying the present. It set a warm tone to the atmosphere that I hadn't experienced the year prior. 

Here's a quick rundown of the various experiences and fun that was had this year, in no specific order: 

VENDORS:

 There were vendors abound this year, with more than two hallways full of wares of all persuasions to investigate. Many familiar staples and fan favorites were present, i.e. Professor Mark P. Donnelly’s Canes Enable, who shared a room with Tea & Absinthe this year, making for a brilliantly potent pairing of purveyors of fine goods, as well as fantastic discussion.

Canes Enable: 
https://www.facebook.com/CanesEnable/?fref=ts

https://www.etsy.com/shop/CanesEnable

Tea and Absinthe: 
https://www.facebook.com/TeaAndAbsinthe/?fref=ts

http://www.teaandabsinthe.com/

Foam Brain Games were present in the Ground Floor Ballroom with a grand assortment of games and game accessories including themed dice sets, which caught my fancy.

Foam Brain Games: 

https://www.facebook.com/FoamBrain/?fref=ts

https://www.foambrain.com/

Hibernacula was a new discovery for me, a self-titled Esoteric Boutique with unique jewelry and adornments that were macabre and morbid, but maintained a beautiful allure and quality. Very unique pieces that were super fun to peruse. 

Hibernacula: 

https://www.facebook.com/hibernacula/?fref=ts

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Hibernacula 

Dellamorte & Co never ceases to impress me with their statues and adornments. They are all high quality resin creations, and this year they have graduated to a great selection of smaller items. They are fantastic, and anyone who fancies themselves a gothic, steampunk or horror fan should check them out immediately. Cthulhu, Jersey Devil, Headless Horseman and Ravens are just the tip of the beautifully crafted iceberg!

 Dellamorte & Co.: 
https://www.facebook.com/dellamorteco/?fref=ts

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Dellamorteco

ENTERTAINMENT:

 There is never a shortage of entertainment at Wicked Faire, and I attempted to see as much as possible. Here are my notable notes! 

Frenchy and the Punk: A JME staple, FatP performed multiple sets throughout the weekend, making each one unique from the other. Whether it was a Steampunk cover of "Ace of Spades" in memory of Lemmy or their signature drum tracks from their album "Elephant Uproar", they shined both on and off stage in pure style. 

 Scott Helland: The "Punk" half of Frenchy and the Punk performed a multitude of solo music over the course of the weekend, which to me was a fresh surprise. Just as personable as a one-man act and just as high energy, his music was catchy and memorable. (Note: Check out Platterpus Records in Easthampton to get any of his solo records. All are worth getting!)

 Frenchy and the Punk / Scott Helland site: 

http://www.frenchyandthepunk.com/

Platform One: Platform One is another major institution at Jeff Mach Events, and they are a crowd favorite.Their presence, report with their audience and the earnest fun the band has playing is undeniable and infectious. The band members have that perfect blend of experience and talent that makes their performances fun and enjoyable. 

Platform One site: 

http://www.platform-one.com/

 Azkadelia The Mad Hattress: The high flying acrobatics of Azkadelia were in no short supply this weekend, and the team of performers were in top form, using silks and hoops paired with fan-requested soundtracks for an interactive and entertaining experience. 

Azkadelia:
https://www.facebook.com/MadHattressAzkadelia/ 

DJ Mighty Mike Saga: Another major JME component, Mike Saga packed the ballroom Saturday night until well into the early daybreak of Sunday Morning with great music and high energy. As if playing the soundtrack of the events' ten year run, guests reveled in the almost "final hurrah" of the night here, and it was a fantastic way to spend your evening. 

 DJ Mighty Mike Saga: 

https://www.facebook.com/djmightymikesaga/?fref=ts

This Way to the Egress: TWttE has quickly grown into one of my favorite acts to see at any Jeff Mach Event. Their performances this weekend were high energy, and I would say was one of the more sentimental sets I witnessed over the weekend. Their Saturday show was littered with songs and guest performances that were fan favorites; Some that hadn't been replicated since the first Wicked Faire, which begat an even bigger reaction and sense of history to both the band and Wicked Faire as a whole. They will also forever boast the most hardcore conga line I've ever seen or participated in. (Anyone who knows me and my work history can attest that this is in fact a MAJOR statement and worthy of a prize.) 

 This Way to the Egress: 

http://thiswaytotheegress.com/

FOOD: 

Like last year, there was a kitchen and bar available during convention hours that had a buffet-style system. 20 bucks got you an all access bracelet that was valid for an entire block of time (lunch: noon-four, dinner five to ten, etc.) which was catered quite nicely. 

Turkey legs, vegetables, fruit cobblers, soup, bread and many things abound dominated the menu, and was incredibly tasty. Several items were on rotation, and each one being consumed quite speedily. 

If you were on a budget, it would have been best to order out to the various delivery places in Princeton, but it was a meal opportunity worth having at least once (multiple times). 

The drink menu for Wicked Faire featured several mead selections in addition to the regular beer, wine and liquor options, adding a nice theme of choice to the event. Necromangocon was a fan favorite, a mead by B.Nektar Meadery, a honey wine brewed with peppercorns to get a spicy and sweet finish. 

ACTIVITIES:

In addition to the events listed in the historically MASSIVE schedule, there were numerous events that occurred both on (and off) record that also added those special touches to a convention experience that are worth a thousand stories. Here are but a few:  

Final Toast and Pub Sing: To kick off the "Final Wicked Faire", Jeff Mach stood atop a chair overlooking the denizens of Wicked Faire patrons, and gave a glass-less yet polite, concise and heartfelt toast in the bar area of the hotel. Quickly followed by pub song from L.I.A.R.S and Matt DeBlass, it was a rousing good way to begin the weekends' festivities. Members of the various bands and vendors were present, and added a jovial atmosphere to the proceedings. 

Glimmerdark Photo Shoot: On Saturday, there was an organized promo shoot for "Glimmerdark", the new Jeff Mach Event slated to debut next February in Princeton, NJ. My convention partner in crime, Babs of "Babs Who Takes Pictures" and I happened to be in applicable costume, and so participated in the shoot held by Cat Trzaskowski Photography. It was a fun time, and you can see photos here: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.530963507082808.1073741860.390847204427773&type=3

 The theme is Faeries / Fae folk and fantasy, which should yield some very fun costumes and events next year! 

Cat Trzaskowski Photography

https://cattrzaskowskiphoto.smugmug.com

After parties: On Saturday night specifically for me, the social shine of the event is attending and meeting different people from across New England, whether it was participating in whiskey or scotch tastings in hotel rooms, to discussing beer with new people overlooking the hotel floor, or socializing in specialty events held in vendor rooms during after hours. These things are what keep me up at conventions until 3 in the morning. For the respect of those whom I visited I will refrain from details, but know that one of the major builders of bonds at Jeff Mach Events are not just the events that are listed on paper, but the ones that people make up either on their own or on the spot. It is the magic that I think keeps many people coming back and experiencing these events year after year, and  being able to participate in a social community that is rarely seen in the regular hours of the day. 


And that brings me back to that Saturday night, passing by the man responsible for a decade-longer event that has brought countless people together in Princeton, NJ, tirelessly toiling away to the cumulative benefit of everyone that travels to his events. We passed briefly in seconds, but I made sure to say "Thank you for the great time, Jeff. It is very much appreciated.". His reaction was genuine, and really drove home how special these events are. It was my favorite time seeing him that weekend, and I can't wait to have another favorite time in the future. 

*cough cough* STEAMPUNK WORLD's FAIR 2016 PISCATAWAY, NJ *cough* cough*

Jeff Mach’s new Winter endeavor, “Glimmerdark” is slated to be a themed Faerie and Fae-focused event, encouraging attendees to show their inner wings, fangs and fantasy in Princeton, NJ in February 2017. I look forward to hopefully being there to usher in a new installment of JME history. 

Glimmerdark links: 

http://glimmerdark.com/

https://www.facebook.com/WickedFaire/

I must thank Jeff Mach, his staff, Circuit Six and all of the performers, vendors and Hotel Staff at the Princeton Hyatt Regency for a yet another safe, organized and memorable Convention experience! 

https://www.facebook.com/JeffMachEvents/?fref=ts

I must also give a major thanks to Opinions May Vary's Alex and Jayare for sending me on another enjoyable recon mission for their podcast. The burden is anything but, just please stop hitting me.  

I hope you guys dig the write-up, and I look forward to throwing more words out in the future. 

Take care, 

Brett Kelley: Art Mercenary

Category:Comics Movies & Videogames -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT
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