Post-Pandemic Convention Report 3: Ponycon Holland 2021. Part 2.

 Day 2: Sunday Events

6740 Euros raised for MuzieKids... Imalou Spills the Beans... Con to Return 1 & 2 Oct 2022

Day Two of Ponycon Holland was no less laid back than the first, and while events were a little more sparse, there was more flexibility for fans to enjoy the surrounding area. It was refreshing to see this one come together in spite of everything.

Note that for more convention reports, you can read them here.

"The chance which now seems lost may present itself at the last moment."
Jules Verne.


 

11:00 – Panel: With G5 Artist Imalou

Now this was a panel we'd all come to see. The ultimate Ascended Fangirl herself, with her partner Assassin Monkey, spilt the beans on all the challenges and trials of getting hired for a major animation company. Now that Hasbro were moving a lot of their operations for the franchise to Europe, it was inevitable that they would look for staff who were fans of the previous generation, in order to help try recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle. For these two, working for Boulder animation meant relocating to Ireland.

It was quite the challenge at first, adjusting to the new job as well as life in a new country where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Not to mention the pressure to check her own behaviour and output online to avoid clashing with the franchise's family friendly ethos. But she had some excellent advice to give, including the old staple of taking things one day at a time. Oh, and coping with the burden of carrying on the magic. She says without the support of the community of animators at Boulder – friends – she would've found it much more difficult.

Oh and we got to see some goofy shitpost drawings as well. But she asked us not to show them. You'll have to make do with the header pic above instead.

13:30 – Panel: MLP Events in Europe with Jamis

Jamis, aka Flutterguy – yes, him – has been to just about every convention going. Even more than me! In this rather insightful talk he gave his opinions on the best ways to see conventions, as a well as a detailed history of the con scene. With a blow-by-blow account of how to attend these events and what to watch out for as a newbie or an oldie, from multiple perspectives, this panel is always a good one to see. If you want tips on how to get into conventions in this current, very different world to the one we left in 2019, this panel is an absolute must. He'll be hosting it at other conventions later this year in 2022 so it's always updating.
 
13:30 – Panel: Dutch Fan Musicians Talk
Note: I only partially attended this panel, but I have it all on camera.
 
The DBM (Agatan, MC Arch, and Sam Quak Brony) hosted this panel. They brought their combined expertise in singing, music production and public performing, from across three different styles, to the table. They gave the audience a lot of insightful questions – with the required witty banter – on all manner of aspects. These included the upsides, the hurdles, and the unexpected rewards of doing this kind of art, especially collaborating, even in a small fandom such as ours.

Apart from the whole 'making friends' deal, I mean.

15:00 – Charity Auction

This was the most important event of the day. The charity auction was a whopping two hours long, which is usually unheard of for a European convention. Clearly they were hoping to go all out to make a good first impression. The charity, MuzieKids, offers musical experiences to children in hospitals and rehab centres. This is not just music, but music-themed games and other activities, often on computer, guided by music teachers. Studies have shown that the recreational atmosphere this creates helps to speed up the recovery process for many, and has been very well received.

All in all, 6740 Euros were raised, and we had a very good time with lots of bidding war drama. Not bad for a first convention!


 

17:00 – Closing Ceremony

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After the awards for cosplay were handed out, and for the workshop prizes, we were told that the con was indeed planned again for the next year. We'll be seeing them again on the 1st to 2nd of October in 2022.

But the night wasn't over; we were able to spend the night enjoying the local bars and restaurants, safe in the knowledge that despite a pandemic and being forced to delay for a year, and ridiculously strict immigration controls, so many of us were able to come together and make such a fantastic go of it.

 

Thoughts: Venue, Accommodation, Location 
The venue was perfect for a first time con; as can be seen from the map, the main stairwell is perfect for crowd control to the main theatre, albeit a bit cramped. The other panel room, workshop rooms, and vendor hall were up on floor two. This stairwell was where meals could be bought, but the requirement for a curved queue kept getting in the way of the vendor hall queue.
 

There were also some problems with the payment system; no cash available, only bloody card, so you were stuck. Because of Covid restrictions. This meant they would allow beers and meals on the house and you would have to pay them later. Which we did. But it's not nice doing that. The dinner menu was limited and a bit artificial looking. However, the lunch menu had a decent spread, and the drinks (and table positioning) were decent enough. Not too expensive either.

The concert had a clever conceit: to allow for raves in the main theatre, the stage for the band was a raised section in the main stage, with the rest of it being used as a dance floor. This restricted a small crowd to a small space in this large theater, allowing for a more intense feel and more fun mosh pits, beachball toss, grenade toss, etc.

The rooms are not too pricey, and the amenities are decent enough. But If you miss the con's special deals, you can try the Hotel Corona just down the road. Yes, you read that right. Rooms a bit plainer but cheap, and from what I hear the owner is very doting, and as part of the buffet breakfast you get pancakes or eggs and bacon free.

For night dining, Restaurant Bell's is pretty good, I recommend it. But there are plenty of other restaurants on the hotel's street and near the crossroads to the left as you come out the main doors.


 

Thoughts: Other Events and Schedule

The other workshops were pretty fun. I took a peep in there and there seemed to be a lot of young teens. They were well spread throughout the day, but it would've been nice if regular events were started a bit earlier to allow for people to catch both a workshop and a panel. Free drawing is nice, but there could've been a bit more in the way of alternative activities, like card games. It would've improved things if the music panel on Sunday was not at the same time as the FIM Events panel with Janis.
 

Getting There and Things to Do

The Netherlands has excellent train infrastructure, and you can take a train from most neighboring capitals such as Germany or Belgium that go straight to Amsterdam. Often under 100 Euros. The nearest train stations are Dreibergen-Zeist and Bunnik, half an hour walk away. Get there and spend a tenner on a taxi. It is a good idea to aim for a flight that lands no later than about 8 pm, In case Covid regulations cause delays. You do not want to miss the last train to either station.

If you are coming from overseas, unless coming from a country immediately next door, the plane prices will be more expensive, in the region of 150 – 300 Euros, so it'll be worth taking a few days here. Going to Amsterdam Schipol airport allows you to spend a day (and night) checking out everything there: from the canal riverboat tours to Anne Frank's house, to seeing the Night Watch painting at Rembrandt Museum, the Lookout Tower with that swing that goes over the side... even the cheese museum and condom factory.

From the US, prices will be in the 400 – 600 Euro range.

Just remember that the whole area is awash with cyclists, even at night. If you ARE cycling, remember that some bike lanes allow for MOPEDS too, because stupidity knows no bounds. Assume all lanes. There is tons of lovely flat countryside, windmills, tulips, etc. to see. Oh, and check out the red light district, but don't get too disorderly off the weed shops, or take photos of the sex workers. Or you might find your bike saddle replaced with a big dildo the next day.

There are a few toy stores and a printing store If you need to do some last minute merch gathering or vendor related things.

Zeist has some attractions, such as Slot Zeist (the local Baroque Palace) and the underground caves. In Utrecht, the nearest big city, there are a lot of attractions such as the Botanic Gardens. Make sure to book before you look!

And for the love of Celestia, always check your Covid travel requirements before you leave.

But all in all, it was a wonderful time, and I will be returning next (this) year. So make sure you come if you can, because this con goes small, but it goes hard.

Foal Duke, on a bike in a dyke in a THC spike.

 



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