NC Mermania 2017, part 1 - Introduction January 30, 2017 00:00

From Jess: 

It's been a week since Chris and I returned home to Los Angeles from the second annual NC Mermania -- a convention for all things mermaid and merman -- held in Greensboro, North Carolina, and we have so much to talk about! We had an absolutely amazing time.

Chris and I were first contacted in the summer of 2016 by Raina, owner of Halifax Mermaids and one of the organizers of NC Mermania, asking if we’d be interested in appearing at the event as special guests and vendors. We’d wanted to attend 2016’s Mermania, but the timing hadn’t worked out, so we were determined to be there in 2017! In addition to promoting and selling signed copies of our first novel, “Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist,” Chris and I would be appearing on Sunday afternoon’s Expert Panel to discuss co-writing and self-publishing alongside other professionals with experience relevant to the mermaid community.

Getting to Greensboro, North Carolina, however, was going to take some planning. Although we have a booth at San Diego Comic-Con every year and are no strangers to vending at conventions, Chris and I had never exhibited at an event that wasn’t within driving distance, so we needed to figure out how to get ourselves and our merchandise across the country successfully. We also needed to adapt our promotional displays (we made the cutest little travel-friendly stand-up banners!) as well as pack my mermaid tail (more about that later). Without a direct flight from Los Angeles to Greensboro, we made the decision to fly from LAX to Raleigh-Durham, rent a car, and then drive the hour-and-change from Raleigh to Greensboro; that way, we didn’t have to worry about our checked luggage getting lost while making a connection between airports. We didn’t want to show up to NC Mermania without our books or my tail!

On Friday, January 20th, Chris and I woke up at four AM in California, dragged ourselves to the airport to board our flight to North Carolina, and arrived in Raleigh at around 4:30 PM EST. After some unexpected delays (are there any other kind?), we had all of our precious cargo, our rental car, and our destination: the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons.

The weekend was pleasantly crammed with activities, beginning with Friday night’s mixer and after-hours swim, then continuing with Saturday morning’s Mers of Color panel on diversity, swimming and vending time at the nearby Greensboro Aquatic Center until five PM, and Saturday night’s dinner and ball followed by even more swimming in the hotel pool. (Are we spotting a theme, here?) Sunday would see another day in the dive well at the GAC, and then it was back to the Sheraton for the Expert Panel and closing ceremonies.

On top of all that, sprinkled throughout both days at the GAC were classes and workshops for the attendees (underwater posing, “merwrangling” for mermaid assistants, and water safety), in-water photo slots with professional photographers, and even children’s story times and swimming with mermaids for the local little guppies. Whew! Considering Chris and I usually spend our time at SDCC either in our booth or fast asleep back at our hotel, having the option to actually participate in panels and social events was something new and different for us. It was a lot to take in!

From the first moment that Raina greeted us at Friday night’s mixer, Chris and I felt really well taken care of by NC Mermania’s staff of dedicated volunteers. We primarily interacted with Raina; her partner and Merwrangler, Sean; Venessa; and Dan, and each person was always ready with answers to our questions and a smile, even though I know they were all exhausted after putting so much time and energy into planning the convention. Chris and I really appreciated their attention to detail and their ability to roll with the hiccups and sudden changes that accompany any large event. This was only NC Mermania’s second year, but everything went really smoothly, and they quadrupled their attendance numbers from 2016. Wow! We’re looking forward to seeing the event continue to grow and evolve, and we hope to be an even bigger part of it in the future.

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting a series of several in-depth blogs about our experiences at the world’s largest convention for merfolk, including photos and video clips. I can’t wait to share our adventures with you!