Hayden Lee, Jason Manns and Rob Benedict – Courtesy of Nancy Davis

The Supernatural convention was in Jacksonville this past weekend, and we were lucky enough to attend! We’ll be bringing you a series of coverage, from daily breakdowns and our experiences, vendors, interviews and more – so stay tuned!

To kick off the series, we’re going to talk about Friday – the very first day of the convention. Creation Entertainment, which puts on the conventions, does an amazing job with the programming on Friday to keep those who are able to attend excited and busy.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about my experience in Orlando – and how I believed that Creation was destroying the competition (in a good way!) by doing things no other convention was doing. For this series on Jacksonville, I’ll be diving into each day’s activities and the thoughts about them. One thing I can say for sure – every expectation I had for this con was exceeded.

Friday started out with panels, and a welcome from Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr., on what was to come and what to expect. The two have an amazing chemistry and friendship that we’ve talked about many times, so it’s no surprise that they’re exactly what this con needed to get the audience fired up and ready to go.

There’s so many things to do at the cons; panels, photo-ops, autographs, meet and greets, and much more. It’s one of the most immersive convention experiences that I’ve ever been to, and it makes Creation’s events stand out from the rest.

For the first panel of the day, Rachel Miner took the stage. She was so lovely and a lot of fans spoke very highly about her, including her work with Random ActsShe was sweet and engaging and it was amazing to watch.

Emily Swallow – Courtesy of Nancy Davis

After Rachel, Emily Swallow took the stage. She was also very sweet and kind, answering some great questions.

When she was done, there was a little bit of a break in the panels. The main ballroom hosted trivia, with a chance to win gift certificates, as well as having autographs and photo-ops going at the same time.

After the intermission, Jason Manns took the stage. His panel is unique because he does a Q&A, but also plays music at the same time, something he joked around about on stage. Rob, Billy Moran and Hayden Lee also joined in, singing some songs with Jason as well. He was charming and sweet, and you can tell everyone just really loved his music and how he was able to play almost any song that people requested. It was a great way to see one of my favorite musicians interact in a way that is only being done at these conventions.

After Jason, there was a break to sign-up for karaoke, one of the things I was most looking forward to that night, since I had never been before. You can put your name down and pick a song, which gives you a chance to be called up to stage and perform with some of the guests of karaoke. The event was created and spearheaded by Richard Speight, Jr. and Matt Cohen, who put so much love into making sure everyone has a great time.

David Haydn-Jones – Courtesy of Nancy Davis

Next up was a panel with some of the newest Supernatural actors, David Haydn-Jones and Adam Fergus. These two have a fun and comedic dynamic that really made their panel stand out. Their humor made everyone in the audience laugh, and they were just so charming and interactive. It really made me like the actors, who play not-so-nice characters on the show. It was really one of the best panels on Friday.

The last panel of the day was the kick-ass duo of Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster. Their panel is so refreshing, because they’re not afraid to just be themselves and inspire you to be your best self. It was great to hear them talk in person and share their experiences, and you can tell how much the audience loved them. They were raw and real, and I look up to them in so many ways.

Between the panels, I had a chance to check out some of the vendors. There was a decently-sized area where the ballroom doors were where there were many different vendors, selling all sorts of fandom-related things. Some of my favorite vendors were there, so I was really excited to see their booths.

Con*Quest Journals

One vendors that I visited included Con*Quest Journals, which sells fandom-related con journals, planners, stickers, and more. The two people who run it, Shelley and Ted, are incredibly sweet and knowledgeable and you can tell how much they care about their products, and the fans who attend these cons.

We also saw Scout Villegas, who is one of my favorite artists. She’s extremely talented and has some great merchandise featuring the Wayward ladies, Rob, Rich, and Louden Swain. Next to Scout’s table was Supernatural Specialties, run by Zerbe, who makes incredible jewelry that every fan should have.

There was also Illy from Super Inspired, who is newer to the convention circuit and has some beautiful artwork, buttons and more. There’s Eldewenne’s Fantasy, who makes incredible one-of-a-kind jewelry (and also just started to have a workshop at the cons!). I also saw Lynn from Fangasm who was selling her book, and many other fandom-related vendors.

There was also a table for Louden Swain, where all of their merchandise is sold including their albums, shirts, kazoos and more. Jason Manns had a table, where he sells his music, and shirts. Finally, there was also a table for Random Acts, who were accepting donations.

There was so many things to do and see, that it took me over the course of the three days of the convention to truly browse through everything.

Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster – Courtesy of Nancy Davis

We had autographs with Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster and Emily Swallow that night, and I cannot rave enough about all three of them. They were kind, engaging, and were so amazing to meet.

The last event of the night was karaoke. There was a line that had started for people to get in, since this was all general admission and a big pit was to be formed in front of the stage. Once entering the room, I was a few people behind in the pit, but with a really great view; there wasn’t really a bad view of anyone all night. Rich came on stage, with Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes, David Haydn-Jones, Adam Fergus and Emily Swallow, and explained about how everything would work, including that Matt Cohen was running a little bit behind because of a flight and would hopefully make it before karaoke was over. Rich was all dressed up, since this was officially his last karaoke as a host. The energy was one I’ll never forget; from the actors running down through the front of the audience, singing every word with the crowd, the audience cheering on their neighbors as their names were chosen, and more. Even if you didn’t know the song, you sang along and had fun anyway. About halfway through karaoke, Rich made an announcement that Matt had arrived, and he hopped on the stage like a rockstar; suit and tie and sunglasses included. The energy level definitely amped up even more at that point, as Matt made his way around the stage and over to the audience to belt out tunes.

Matt Cohen and Richard Speight, Jr. – Courtesy of Nancy Davis

Right as karaoke was getting ready to wind down, Rich got serious and talked about how much he’d miss karaoke, how him and Matt built it together, and how important (even though Matt would never acknowledge it himself) Matt was to the cons and to karaoke. Matt also turned to the microphone to talk about karaoke and how much Rich has meant to him and taught him. It really was a sweet, heartfelt moment between the two.

Karaoke ended on a high note, with everyone on stage and in the audience singing “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas, and we couldn’t have asked for it to end a better way.

Stay tuned for Saturday’s coverage – coming soon!


Briar is the Editor-in-Chief of Nerds and Beyond. She has been running the site since 2015 with the goal of being a unique, professional news site dedicated to all the things she loved - and providing fans with the best content available. Briar oversees the day-to-day operations and runs all of the social media. She loves all things Disney, Star Wars, Supernatural and anything tech related. You can follow her @thebriarroseee.

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