The third week of June has become the established time that Oncers from all over the world gather in Paris, France, for two days of the Fairy Tales Conventions. It was my second time attending this Xivents event and it did not disappoint.
I arrived in Paris two days before Fairy Tales III began, giving me plenty of time to check into the hotel and visit a few locations that have personal meaning to me. The venue for the convention was Les Esselieres in Villejuif, a ten minute walk from the metro station, and a five minute walk from La Ferme des Barmonts, a hotel where many of us stayed. Thus it was easy to trek over to pick up passes on Friday afternoon.
Here began the first snag in the event. They were late opening and the line creeped, only letting people in five at a time. Because of the heat and lack of shade in a very long wait, I chose to go back to the hotel and wait until 6pm when it would be cooler. The line-time average was two hours; it was made pleasant though by starting conversations with those around me, introducing ourselves and sharing our love of Once. Many wonderful Oncers also helped me practice my limited French-speaking abilities. I was also thrilled to reconnect here with many of the friends I met last year and to meet in person Twitter friends.
The first day of the event, I woke early and was glad that I took the time to pick up my pass the night before. There was quite a long line and many I believe did not make it in for the first panel. And the panels! The Frozen cast opened up the con and it was a great start. The format was Q and A and there were many highlights as they bantered about bringing Frozen to life, the costumes, and their favorite moments. You could tell that they really enjoyed being on OUAT. Seeing them was one of my favorite parts of the con. As much fun as the Frozen panel was, the second, with Jennifer, Meghan and Colin, brought the house down before it even started. For many, myself included, this was the first time seeing the three actors in person, and people were on their feet cheering before they even entered the room. I was right along with them, so thrilled especially to finally see Jennifer, the woman who plays the iconic center of OUAT. Needless to say, Colin got quite a lot of cheers and screams. And I was so happy to see Meghan, much missed from the show. It was like a reunion. Some around me were in tears as the three took the stage and I was nearly with them. It was just so exciting! The later panels with Victoria and Lana were also hilarious. They had us in stitches. Most moving though was when Jennifer told us that the art, web pages, and articles fans create do not go unnoticed. Then she thanked us for all the love that we pour into OUAT. In response, the audience broke out in a lengthy, thunderous applause. For me it was not just in gratitude for her comments, but also thanking her for giving us the same.
The photo-ops and autographs were both a joy and a frustration. On Saturday, the panels got started late, so times were off, and then when instructions were given, they were done orally and not always easy to understand. There appeared to be seeming contradictory instructions when ops for meet-and greet was called, and those without priority. Repeated calls for us to listen and follow directions compounded the frustration because people were doing their best to do so, and the volunteers could not clarify when asked. Moreover, there was also no division in the lines so people would clump together near the stairs. This resulted in many people not getting their photo-ops or autographs that day. Late Saturday afternoon, to much relief, they began projecting the instructions in written form on the large screen thus giving a clear reference as to who was being called and where to go. By Sunday, this method was in place and there was an easel at the front of the hall to which both participants and volunteers could refer. They also divided up the line using theater ropes so that fans knew exactly where to go and could do so quickly, keeping things up and running. These solutions worked well and can be useful again as the standard for Fairy Tales Four.
Once the lines and times were sorted, it was time to revel in those special moments with the stars. All of them were gracious and seemed to be having fun. Jennifer Morrison was the epitome of class, elegance and sincerity. Colin was very easy to talk to and funny as he joked with me about different Irish accents. I was pleased to get the opportunity to tell Elizabeth and Scott in person how emotionally impacted I was by their trunk scene in “Fall” (which ultimately turned out to be my favorite of the season). Both seemed moved and thanked me for letting them know. Meghan delightfully wore a “Little Reds” pin a fan gave her, and Georgina was lovely and so friendly, signing her autograph with “Let It Go.” I did not purchase any extras with Victoria or Lana, but I could tell by everyone’s stories that they gave joy to all who met them.
In between events there were cosplay competitions, OUAT scene reenactments, quiz competitions and fan video screenings. Xivents’ Xenan Warr gave a musical performance, items were auctioned off, and a charitable appeal was made by Le Refuge. There were two shops with OUAT items and photographs for signings were available for purchase. There was also a special treat for fans of Hook and cosplay: Tom Abaud, Hook Lookalike, could always be found in one of his many Hook costumes, graciously taking pictures with anyone who asked and giving his signature charm.
The weekend ended with the stars and audience belting out “Let It Go.” Georgina was having a blast with her “Elsa Moment” and you could really feel the love in the hall that Oncers have for each other and the cast (and vice versa). It was a perfect way to end the event.
The hardest part was saying goodbye. I had met so many new people and visited with old friends. Two days was not enough. There were many hugs and tears with promises of seeing each other next year. For there will be a next year. Tickets are already selling fast for Fairy Tales Four. I cannot recommend this event enough. The gathering and fellowship of so many Oncers from different countries, combined with the amazing city of Paris as a location, is well worth the trip and will give you memories to last a lifetime.