Fandom Fest, which starts today, may be facing more problems than just the fact that more than half of its celebrity guests have canceled within the past week. The pop-culture convention, which in past years has grown to attract up to 30,000 attendees some years, has only been approved to host 1,700 attendees at a time at its new venue at the vacant Macy’s in the Jefferson Mall.
WAVE 3 TV spoke to Okolona Fire Marshal Mike Allendorf, who said: “They’ll have people posted with a little clicking device. So, when they hit 17 (hundred), that’s it — no one else can go in until someone decides to come out.”
Last week, festival organizers Ken and Myra Daniels announced that their negotiations with the Kentucky Expo Center — the advertised venue for the fan convention — had broken down and named the former Macy’s as the new location, touting its 150,000 square feet of space. Almost immediately, celebrity guests began to cancel, starting with headliner “Weird” Al Yankovic. Burt Ward, Robin to Adam West’s Batman, was announced as the new headliner on Monday but canceled on Wednesday.
As of now, around 24 celebrities have canceled their appearances. Insider has not been tracking the number of comic artists or vendors who have also canceled.
Currently, the wrestler “Sting” and Sam Jones who played Flash Gordon in the 1980 film, are listed as headliners. Jones’ most prominent acting role in the past several decades has been a comic cameo as himself in the movie “Ted.”
Fandom Fest begins today at 4 p.m. There is no schedule listed on the con’s website. Tickets are $30 a day. As previously reported, the event has a no-refund policy.
Local Facebook user, “Kentucky Geek Girl,” posted this Thursday:
Insider has reached out to the organization and to Allendorf for comment.
UPDATE 1:42 p.m.
Allendorft emailed Insider. He had additional insight into how the numbers worked out.
“We required the organizers of Fandom Fest to submit an architect drawing of the vacant Macy’s and how they proposed to use the facility. On the website, it stated they had 150,000 square feet of space but that was not accurate. 150,000 square feet is the building minus all store rooms, offices, bathrooms, etc. In all they may have 110,000 sqft of viable floor space, ” he wrote.
“The Okolona Fire Department will be spot checking the event throughout the dates of the event to see if they are following what was ordered by the fire department. If the occupant load is surpassed at any time, the event will be shut down for the duration. We will not occur any overtime for the event nor will we have people there the entire time the event is open to the public.”