Saskatoon Blitz is an anime/cosplay focused event that has been running for a few years with a good reputation, so this isn’t a first year show meltdown, but they do seem to have had some real organizational problems this time out. Several exhibitors had problems with staff over tables in artists alley being first come, first served (what?) and then confusion over the show’s hours led to a dispute that ended with an exhibitor being escorted from the show. And just to make it totally gross, on a private message board for the event, staffers started making horrible rape jokes about the exhibitor who complained.
The complaints began in a tumblr post by artist Lyeric who purchased a table for the show and then arrived to find things not set up in the usual fashion:
We rush to Saskatoon and get there right before 10am. The Artist Alley was open to the public at 10am, so we were very worried that we would look ridiculous trying to set up the display – but many artists seemed to be in the same boat and not a soul was wandering the alley. I was first approached by Emily who directed me to my table – well, where my table should have been. Another artist was set up there in booth C1. So we stood the only empty spot in the AA where later they brought out an 8 foot table. The first thing I notice is that the alley is set up… classroom style. That is to say the front of your table faced the back of the table in front of you, and patrons walked down the aisle in between. Patrons were 3ft away from cash boxes, stock, etc. It really wasn’t fun to have traffic behind us, seeing our set up. From patrons I was told it felt like walking behind a cash register, it was just wrong!
Weird. This sounds like the most inefficient way possible to set up a show, and something that experienced con runners should have known about. Anyway, Lyeric’s post is very long and things get worse from there, with a low turnout for the event, food poisoning, misinformation from the staff over tables badges hours and a two hour drive. On returning Sunday Lyeric found a squatter in her NEW location had to move and then everything fell apart:
Jared and I then go to the Vendors room again to talk to Katrina, and update her on whats happening. We then start to talk about Ai-Kon, and how its one of our favorite cons. We discuss other conventions I have never been to, and make plans to attend together. As Jared and I talking, a tall man in a Prairieland Park jacket comes up, telling Jared and ‘his ladyfriend’ that we need to talk. I’m already pissed off at this guy for being so rude, don’t call me ladyfriend pal, but we go anyway. He tries to lead us to the front door and tells us that we are being told to leave. We ask why, (I mean, I know why but I wanted to know what they told him) and he tells us that we are harassing the vendors and picking fights with artists. We tell him this isn’t true, and its a lie from the convention staff to kick us out without giving us a refund.
Lyeric’s account is backed up by another tumblr artist:
The next morning, we woke up early. Which annoyed me a little because I was supposed to be there before 9, and no one woke me up when I said I wanted to be there.
So I got there at 12:30 and thats when hell happened.
Everything is moved and where the fuck is my table.
The setup is much nicer, but where am I. Where is anyone. Good god someone help me. So I can’t find Dana. I have to ask one of the staff to help me find her, and she’s basically in tears and I have no idea what’s going on. I apologize for being late, and then we talk to Lauren, and then everyone starts talking to everyone else and aren’t explaining anything. I find out that not only was my table moved, breaking the contract, but again just plain not set up.
And yet things got worse YET when an ex con staffer sent Lyeric screenshots of comments about her made on a private group, which is not cool no, but the content is so appalling that it deserves the whistleblowing:
I don’t doubt that Lyeric may not have been the most polite person in dealing with staff but after the choatic organization you can see why she got upset.
The Sakatoon Blitz has released several statements since then, and taken down their FB page due to what they call threats . The site Nerd and Tie also covered this story and got the following statement:
Hello Nerd and Tie
Please see official release online. Facebook page has been temporarily disabled due to harassment and threats to volunteer staff (including repeat linking to personal information).
We are preparing a number of accurate witness statements of the days events.
It is very unfortunate that the unlawful entry, and harassment of convention staff that caused an artist to be expelled has caused such a storm of defamation.
This is literally a case of a disgruntled patron who was escorted off premises and has taken an inaccurate telling to the Web.
We are choosing to not engage at this point.
There’s also this official statement on the webpage:
Greetings Saskatoon Blitz Fans, We are writing this to issue an official statement regarding some events that conspired this weekend regarding the expulsion of an artist from our event. The artist was removed on grounds of staff harrasement, and breaking event policy. Which we do not wish to discuss publicly. We are dealing with concerns privately and striving towards a solution.
In regards to the content that has been circulating on social media , we would like to issue a formal apology to the members involved. We in no way intended any harm, threats, or to speak ill of any party. We recognize the conversation lacks professionalism and is very inappropriate.
Saskatoon Blitz strives to create an inclusive and positive family friendly event for all our attendees. We sincierely apologize if these events have offended anyone. We are working to improve ourselves and provide a better experience next year.
Thank you for your concern and support, Saskatoon Blitz Executive Team
Like I said, this is all a bit hard to parse from far away. This wasn’t a first year show, and anyone running an event like this should know that acknowledging screw ups and moving on is the best way to defuse tensions even when an exhibitor is being argumentative. Anyway, read and learn.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.