Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bier Fest comes to Busch Gardens Williamsburg this September

While Busch Gardens is gearing up for Howl O Scream (which begins a tad later this year) guests can look forward to the brand new event Bier Fest.

Bier Fest is an Oktoberfest festival coming to Oktoberfest of Busch Gardens, probably why they named it Bier Fest.

The short 4 day event will be over two weekends, September 12-13 and September 19-20 from 11-6pm. (the park opens at 10 am).

Bavarian Heritage including traditional German food and about 75 different types of beer will be highlighted during the festival. The beers will be from all over the world, and some from local Virginia breweries. “This fall we are exploring the many flavors of beer with brewers from 10 countries, (America, Asia, and Europe) this is the largest in park history.”  park president Carl Lum.

Some names you would expect like Becks, Rolling Rock and Budweiser will be available as well as Pumpkin flavored beers. Some other brands of beer that will be at Bier Fest are Goose Island, Bold Rock and Devils Backbone (to get you excited for HowlOScream). More are listed on the BG website.

There will be a Keg tapping ceremony from the  Burgermeister at 11:30 am each day with limited samples.

Guests can purchase a “Bier Fest Sampler” which will be 10 3oz. beers for $20, and given a card which can be used throughout the 4 days of the festival. You can also get a souvenir mug for an additional $10. Pass members can get an additional 10% off.

For those who prefer cordials you will have the option to also sample German  schnapps, which are usually made with fruits such as cherries, apples, pears and plums. The schapps are made without additional sugars and through the distilling process there isn’t a lot of sweetness left, so it's sure to please those who don't want anything too sweet.

                                Example of tasting, from Food & Wine 2015 Scotch Tastings

Some of the food options will include the Schnitzel sandwich which was popular at the Food & Wine event, as well as German meatballs in a caper cream sauce.

German music from the Happy Dutchman and 2 other bands will be entertaining on the outdoor stage in Oktoberfest and inside Das Festhaus. Dancing is encouraged. 

Bier Fest is not a separate ticketed event; it is included with regular park admission, and is still family friendly fun as always. Some E-ticket rides in Oktoberfest are The Mach Tower, Verbolten and Dark Castle for those who love thrills, and for those who prefer their thrills more tame there are shops, bumper cars (The Auto bahn) and the entertainment. All rides not part of Howl O Scream should be running (Pompeii and Europe in the Air are being used as haunted houses).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Surprising aspects of Bronycon 2015

Good morning Baltimare! The weekend of August 7-9 2015 marked the 4th Bronycon, a convention for Bronies, started by “Purple Tinker” nearly 4 years ago. This being the 3rd at the Baltimore Convention Center run by the Bronycon staff.  This was our 2 year in a row of attending the convention. It is a fun filled weekend of some of the most joyful and friendly people (and ponies) you will ever meet. This year the attendance grew again, with over 10,000 attendees making it 20% cooler. 

Good morning Baltimare video, opening ceremonies video shown at the convention. Even has a cameo pony of the “ice cold water” dude.

If you haven't read the previous years post, and/or have no idea what a Brony is, read the link below of our coverage from last year's conference it covers all the details.

We arrived on Friday for the first day of the convention. The place is full of a wide variety of colorful people. Many in full Cosplay or a tribute to their favorite characters. Some in full pony mascot gear. Noah had a huge smile on his face the whole day, was happy to walk around the convention, shop and possibly join a conga line (once he got his confidence up according to him.)

Both years he has said his favorite thing was everything, and that the “Bronies” were his favorite part. I imagine it is nice to be with “your people”, and it is always a stress reliever to be amongst those who not only do not judge you, but will celebrate you. Noah can be a ball of stress, we have learned to manage it over the years, it took a lot of sacrifice and adaptability not just form him, but from us.

 The weekend was full of different types of activities, from workshops on how to create or perfect your own work (drawing, writing and animating seminars) or meet up with the creators of the shows, fan fictions and plushie creators. Video games were played, places to roll play or play MLP games, basic tom foolery and the premier of Anthology 5. There was also 2 big events


Bronypalooza is made up of a large group of Brony musicians (21 bands)who either remix or reimagine songs from MLP friendship is magic. Noah joined in and danced few songs at Bronypalooza both nights of the convention. Some famous Bronies who attended were  ‘The Living Tombstone, Cyril the Wolf, BronyMike” Some nice Brony gave us glow sticks, which was fun. (Noah loves glow sticks). Last year he collected a lot of “Bro-hooves” this year he did also, but didn’t have to count them.

Special Needs and Bronycon

Bronycon does provide assistance to those with special needs with back door "special access"passes, shorter lines and a handy communication system attendees where to let others know where they feel social or not. Noah was "green" the whole time.

We also attended the Coping with Disabilities Panel for the second year in a row. This go-get it group full of personal empowerment discussed what it is like working with a disability, and dealing with it with the show. They used clips with Scootaloo (flying disability)and other ponies dealing with bullying.  Such as Apple Bloom dealing with bullying due to her “blank flank”. The group focuses on skills and strengths and sends the powerful message, don’t give your power away.  you can’t control other people's judgements or nastiness. For more on this topic click here for "Coping with Limitations through pony" article.

Baltimare Arcade

The convention set up an “arcade” which was a lot of laptops some connected to large screens, playing both fan made MLP software and other favorite games. They also had a Rockband (set up with MLP Friendship is Magic music) and a Dance machine. Though the highlight had to be Fighting is Magic, Pony fighting game like Smash Brothers or Mortal Combat without the blood violence , but with adorable ponies. We watched Rarity and Rainbow Dash battle. Maybe next year he will participate more, and knowing how into video games he is, it was surprising he wasn't as engaged. Though he still was as an observer and was happy being in there.

Anthology V

The premier of Anthology V was probably the highlight to Noah, besides the whole convention itself. Anthology V is the fan made collection of parody, music video-pony videos. Watching it with a packed room of people who all get the jokes, laughing along with you is priceless.  Even Joe was almost “feeling the magic” finally when they did a spoof of one of his favorite shows the Trailer Park Boys. It was animated as “Trailer Park Ponies” to the opening credits of the Canadian mockumentary style comedy.

Trailer Park Boys are a "greasy" bunch, but they generally have each other's backs. It's hilarious and I think it is pretty cool that there are Bronies who also watch the show.

                                                 Those darn bottle throwing kids.

Bronies React

Bronies React is a popular You Tube show exactly as described. Bronies are filmed reacting to MLP episodes.  The show was created by Youtuber ACRacebest and he and his friends comically react and respond to the show, they also joined the convention for an hour long panel. They premiered the latest episode at the convention. Noah who also wants to be a “famous Youtuber” but for weather (right now) had us stay up way past our bedtime for this as the panel was 11:30-12:30 am. The Convention Center itself was open 24 hours, but most activities went until 2 am. Ah, the days of yesteryear when 2 am was so doable. But we were able to hang later than usual.

The Blank Canvas Marketplace

A huge part of any pop culture convention is merch! Lots of it. Merchandise everywhere,  much of it here was handmade art, whether they were prints made, clothing created, plushies made by hand, comic books. Then of course licensed merchandise, convention specific and related items. We were fortunate to get the group of plushies made just for the convention. They sold out at the end of the first day or very early the second day. Some other artists also sold out the first day.  One of the surprising aspects of this convention is how inspired you can feel to create something yourself based on the love you have for something. I get the adoration of Friendship is Magic, if I was as talented or when I do have the time, I would like to create my own plushies, or scarves..or something.

                              Fun times at the Convention

                                           Rarity searched high and low for a good seat.

Next year Bronycon will take place at the Baltimore Convention center the weekend of July 8-10, 2016. There are events on Thursday evenings, and there will be discounted hotel rooms available, usually you can start booking in January.  It was a fun and magical weekend. 

Until then Bronycon!