Thoughts from Endemic Fest


If you read my post from over the weekend (and if you didn't, here it is:, you know that I, along with my husband spent the weekend at the fest.  The slogan used to be "a splendid time is guaranteed for all" (not sure if it still is), and that may be true for attendees, but isn't necessarily true for the workers.  Don't get me wrong, there was fun, but for me it wasn't the ideal weekend.  That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I/we were not participating in the fun, but sitting (sometimes standing) at a table for more than 12 hours a day.  I mean how much fun is that?  Some who work the fest get to move around, but we (and I mean mostly my husband) were glued to one location, which is not necessarily "fun."  I suppose what I am trying to say is that we didn't "experience" the fest, even though we were there.

With all that said, I'm going to share some of my thoughts about the weekend (and not just about the fest). So get ready for the good, the bad and the ugly...

  • Hubby and I packed up early and were out the door before 11.  Normally we would not leave until noon or a little after, but since it had been three years since the last convention, hubby wanted to be sure that everything was in place. The St. Peter University Peacocks were also having their celebratory parade in town that afternoon.  (If you are not a basketball person; they were part of March Madness and made it all the way to the elite 8.)  Even if we went later, it shouldn't have affected us, but...Better safe than sorry.  We had no real problems, other than some construction (hey, it's NJ) so this goes in the Good category
  • I hate city driving.  I hate driving when I don't know the area well.  It irritates me no end that I have anxiety when it comes to this (because there is no "good" reason), but I do and I can't make it go away.  I was glad to finally pull into the hotel drive.  File this under the ugly.
  • Upon arriving at the hotel, we had to wait for someone to help us with the luggage and valet park the car (this is really the only option).  The cost per day for parking was nearly $30 (or nearly $90 for our stay).  Why this cost can't be baked into the room cost is mystifying to me, but then again I'm not a seasoned traveler and the places I generally go do not charge for parking.  This falls into the bad category.
  • Instead of checking in and heading to our room, we headed directly to the hall where we would be stationed for the next three days.  The video room was larger than usual which considering the circumstances we've been in is good.  The set up was pretty well done, although there were equipment "challenges" which frustrated hubby.  (Don't ask me what, I'm not the tech guy.)  What was really bad was the temperature.  It may have been three years, but I still remembered how cold it was in the hallway outside of the video room.  I packed with this in mind, but even wearing multiple layers (on Sunday I wore a turtleneck, sweater and denim jacket), I was freezing.  I was wise enough to bring a fluffy throw from home and would huddle under that, but was still cold. Even employees commented on how cold it was and said they would mention it to management.  However nothing ever happened.  It was brutally cold and no one ever does anything about it or explains why it is so cold. I was able a couple of times to run up to our room to try and warm up or go outside in the sun and try to get warm.  Hubby couldn't do that because he is responsible for the room and those who use it (it's not just videos; there are also guest speakers who use the room).   At the end of every evening we both rushed to our room for HOT showers.  This goes beyond bad and ugly.
    How many layers am I wearing?

  • Our room was on the 6th floor and was quite nice.  It was warm (so needed) and roomy and had a view of NYC.  On Saturday morning we could see kayakers on the Hudson!  Although we were barely in there, we had no real complaints (although the chair for the desk lost its hydraulic ability and I had to use a pillow to keep myself at desk height).  It was well kept (which is something that I would not have been able to say years ago when the event was held at what was then the Meadowlands Hilton in Secaucus).
    A room with a view

  • The fest had lots of great guests such   Laurence Juber (one of my favorite guitarists), Mark Lewisohn (if you're a Beatles fan you KNOW this historian and author) and even (via Zoom) Peter Jackson.  There were concerts and lots to do with trivia contests, author forums and even puppet shows, but I never saw any of it.  While I was able to visit the marketplace on the 9th floor (I kept my wallet tucked away), my husband only went up briefly on Friday (before the even began) to get our shirts and badges (to show that we are event workers).  As I said, the really bad thing about working the fest and specifically overseeing the video area is that you NEVER get to leave.  You're stuck in a freezing cold hallway for 13+ hours a day sitting on uncomfortable chairs.  Not fun.
  • Running the video room meant there was no time to go out for meals.  Believe it or not, that falls under good.  The hotel's restaurant was supposedly closed and food was only sold in the bar area form 10-2.  But then we found out that the restaurant WAS opened for the event.  A buffet dinner was available for $50+ PER PERSON.  (See the photographic proof.  There was no lobster or filet mignon).  Breakfast/brunch buffet was just under $30.  We have learned from past fests.  We brought food and drink in a cooler.  (Jersey Mike's does travel well.)  There was a Dunkin Donuts down the street so I could have a morning cappuccino (and earn Dunkin points).  On Sunday morning we hosted our traditional pre-fest brunch which is better than good.  And it brings me to the highlight of the weekend...
  • ...Brunch with friends on Sunday.  I'd like to say this was all my idea, but it isn't.  Several years ago (long enough so that I can't remember the year), when the fest was in Secaucus (and hubby was not solely in charge of the video room), a friend invited us to breakfast in their room.  They had bagels and someone brought coffee.  There was a toaster!  I was inspired and from this evolved Brunchfest which I host in the video room BEFORE the show starts (meaning we have to wrap up by 10:45ish).  It started with a small group and has evolved into a dozen or so people.  Everyone brings something and there is ALWAYS plenty.  This year was bittersweet.  For my husband who was so busy, it was the ONLY time he got to relax with friends (although I don't know if he truly relaxed).  It was a time to hug friends we hadn't seen in years.  And it was time to toast those who are no longer with us.  The list was too long, although I was specifically thinking about our dear friend Ed (  I had a small tribute to him (which some people at the fest got and others did not).  There were too many absent friends, although I am grateful for the memories that were made in the past that I will cherish.

So there you have it:  the good, the bad and the ugly.  I wish I had more time to enjoy the actual convention.  I wish my husband had more time to do the same, but he does a KILLER job (not just with the videos which he spends hours compiling, but preparing for guest speakers and their audio/visual needs).  Working the fest is definitely NOT as fun as attending.  There were so many guests that I would have liked to have seen/heard (I'm thinking particularly of Laurence could a whole fest have gone by without me hearing him play live?)  However, it was such a joy to see friends and to make new ones.  People will always be what it is really about.

Another highlight...Bob Abdou is even more talented than I thought!


  1. From one of those workers who get to walk around The Fest - it is really a blast! Even if I did not get to walk around, my "post" is in the main ballroom with a direct feed of all of the video and audio happening, which really puts me in a prime location, and getting to chat with Peter Jackson over Zoom did not exactly suck either. I finally got a chance to get to chat with Mark Lewisohn a bit, and having breakfast and several conversations with Greg Bissonette... well, it really made this reunion fest (my first one as a worker since 2014) extra special. But all things considered, it was the friends like you who really made the weekend for me.


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