Going into RobinsonFest 2016, I had two fears. The first was that, given my recent personal challenges, I wouldn’t feel up to being social; that people would feel they’d wasted their money to hang out with a mopey, boring dude. The second was that the magic that was the first RobinsonFest wouldn’t be repeatable, and again, people wouldn’t have a good time.
It’s now been two days since RobinsonFest ended, and I can pretty confidently say that both of my fears were unfounded. While I’m still afraid I didn’t get to really connect with everyone who attended, I think everyone had a great time, and the magic that was the inaugural RobinsonFest returned in full force, despite the screwballs thrown our way by the weather.
RobinsonFest isn’t a sterile event where the author is held at a distance, exchanging platitudes and small talk. In addition to the ridiculous child-like fun, we also openly talked about our lives, the good and the bad, and how we’re coping. As a result, I now have a large number of new friends, and deeper relationships with those who attended last year. Given my mental state for the last few months, I was extremely grateful for this.
Okay, enough with the blathering! Here’s a breakdown of the event, and gobs of photos (in a randomly ordered gallery below).
We started at Moxy, my favorite restaurant in Portsmouth, NH, enjoying good food and our very first taste of the Project Nemesis inspired beer, Nemesis Kaiju Stomp, a dark stout with a coffee flavor, created for us by the good people at Throwback Brewery.
The next morning we hit Hilltop Fun Center and basically became kids again, kicking things off with several rounds of laser tag and following that up with go-kart races, rock climbing, the driving range, the batting cage, mini-golf and a lot of video game playing. Many tickets were won and the group pooled their winnings to buy my kids prizes.
We then hit Revolution Taproom and Grill in Rochester, NH, where we had a great lunch and played pool and darts, whilst others hit Collec-tiques, the vintage toy store across the street. While the schedule didn’t leave us enough time to hit the apple orchard (sorry!), we then had a fantastic signing at Jetpack Comics, with an amazing turn out. Following the signing, during some downtime, we (the hosts) were treated to gifts, snacks and the kindness of the people attending. My fans are kind, gentle people with good hearts, and they helped chase off my lingering fears. Supper was held at Agavé, an amazing Mexican restaurant in Portsmouth, where we saw the bottled Nemesis beer for the very first time.
Saturday brought challenge. Rain, and eight foot swells, forced the whale watching boat trip to be cancelled. We scrambled together a plan, returning to last year’s walking tour of Beverly, MA, where attendees got to see the FC-P headquarters building and my childhood home, and we ate at the legendary Nick’s Famous Roast Beef, which many attendees declared to be better than a whale watch. From there, we hit Lynch Park, the site of several Nemesis battles and we enjoyed the misty view of the ocean while recreating the infamous ‘orange toss’ from last year, throwing not just one, but two oranges back and forth until they broke and were hurled into the sea.
The event ended with an early Sunday breakfast, several sad goodbyes and even a few tears, as friends, new and old, parted ways for another year. After returning home (where I played Left 4 Dead 2 with Matt Frank for two days) I realized that the end of RobinsonFest felt a lot like leaving camp as a kid, and that in itself, for adults, is a special kind of thing. The difference is that we can stay connected online, and since we’ll never be too old for RobinsonFest, we’ll always look forward to next year’s event, which we hope will be in Northern NH, in Chess Team, Refuge, and Nemesis territory.
For all who attended, thank you. I think the event’s success has more to do with all of you than any plans conjured by Kane or me. For those who couldn’t attend, we’re already talking about next year’s event, and I think most people from 2016 will be back for 2017. I hope to see you all there!