Avalon 2006. November 24-26, 2006
Convention, Wells, England
Wells, England, has a history stretching back more than a thousand years. A city by virtue of its magnificent cathedral, the tiny town of Wells is known as England's smallest city, a charming crossroads of stone and half-timbered buildings about 20 miles south of Bristol. Only four miles from Glastonbury, the legendary Isle of Avalon with ties both to King Arthur and to Stargate's mythology, Wells presented a magical venue for Avalon 2006, the first gathering for fans of Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping.
Avalon 2006 welcomed 580 visitors to Wells for the special event which ran from November 24th to the 26th. Here, fans would have the opportunity to meet and mingle with Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping in one of five intimate sessions during the course of the weekend. Each session of approximately 120 fans enjoyed a moderated "Question & Answer" with Richard and Amanda, followed by a "Meet the Guests" morning coffee or afternoon tea, and an individual photo session. Finally, the evening auctions raised money for three charitable causes, Comic Relief, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Registration for the event began on Thursday, November 23rd, as fans gathering in the town were able to meet up with friends, many of whom they had only known through the internet. The historic Crown Hotel on Market Square served as the venue for registration as well as a gathering place for many of the fans. Others met in hotels and B&Bs throughout the town, although the Americans, for whom November 23rd was Thanksgiving Day, discovered that a traditional turkey dinner was difficult to come by in the quaint historic town.
On Friday morning, the Avalon event officially began as the first group of fans filtered into the majestic 13th century Bishop's Palace adjacent to the Cathedral. There visitors were serenaded by a harpist as they checked in and were ushered through the ornate hallways, adorned with priceless artwork and antiques, to the upstairs room where the Question and Answer session would take place. Soon, Thomasina Gibson appeared to introduce the special guests, and Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping entered the room to rousing cheers and applause.
Amanda Tapping, a regular at many conventions since Stargate began, had just completed her "AT2" event in London the weekend before, but Richard Dean Anderson, not known for fan conventions, was relatively new to this sort of fan gathering. Although he may have been a bit nervous at first, he quickly warmed up to the intimate setting, and quipped in perfect O'Neill fashion, "What are you all doing in my bedroom?" By the second session he had begun providing the ecstatic fans with an additional photo opportunity as he sashayed down the room's center aisle from front to back as if he were working a catwalk, hands on hips, turns and poses, to a frantic explosion of camera flashes. Fans had been asked to limit their picture taking to the first 5 minutes of the session, but when those minutes had elapsed and fans were reminded to put down their cameras, both Richard and Amanda raised their hands like school children and said, "We don't mind, really, it's okay!" Moments later, however, Richard did jokingly request "No cameras!" as he tried to control his unruly hair to much laughter.
Following the initial greeting and picture taking, Richard and Amanda seated themselves on stools in the front of the room and prepared to take questions from the audience. To provide a variety of questions in each session, questions had been submitted and screened in advance, and those who had been selected were called upon to stand and ask their questions of the guests. No two sessions were alike, but following are some of the questions that were asked in each of the five sessions.
Many thanks for the additional photos from:
Carmargue Ltd., Legends Memorabilia, UgzY, Trekkie, Astra, Raquel, Teresa, Beverley J Barrett, dove0709, DMD, Wendy & Kelly & Scott, Diana, Gator101, Marieta, and Gabriele Gerritsen
Transcript written by KateR. Avalon 2006 is a production of Carmargue Ltd. Wells, England. November 24-26, 2006.