On a cool day in April, in California, the Carnivàle rode back into town and a great many of us were lucky enough to have been there. This was CarnyCon Live 2006 - a ride on the Colossus we won't soon forget.

The festival started with an informal Meet-and-Greet on Friday evening, and it was as though we all walked through the gate into another realm, where magic was still possible. The corn dogs were hot, the lemonade was cold, and the stars were out: Dan Knauf, Clancy Brown, Debra Christofferson, Diane Salinger, Amanda Aday, and Michael J. Anderson greeted us with warmth and appreciation the likes of which would have melted the heart of Chris Albrecht! The Witch on Wheels read our cards and the Rubberboy, Daniel Browning Smith, made us squeal as he contorted his way through a toilet seat. (No kidding!) We laughed, took photos, and said "hello" to the people whose names we see everyday on our computers: Thalidar, Kay, Aprilssong, BJustin, Snowboarder, and so many others. Debra Christofferson hugged us, Clancy Brown kissed our cheeks, and Michael J. Anderson made us smile until our cheeks hurt. And that was just the beginning…

The next morning, the Q&A panels began, and we got to see first-hand that we were not the only ones who were so warmly touched by the experience of Carnivàle. The first panel included Scott "Burley" MacDonald, and Bree "Sabina" Walker. They were soon joined by Tim "Jonesy" DeKay and John "Stroud" Carroll Lynch, via telephone. Tim and John are rehearsing for a play in which they'll be appearing together in NYC. They all shared anecdotes and memories recanting what a special experience it was to be part of this cast and project. Debra "Lila" Christofferson, Patrick "Lodz" Bachau, and Brian "Gabe" Turk joined the stage and shared their experiences as well. In addition to sharing their perceptions about the script, the casting experience, and the fun they had on a very dirty set, one common thread seeped through: this was a family. Scott MacDonald did a brilliant job of moderating the discussion and keeping the conversations on point and clear for the telephone guests, while Debra and Patrick finished each other's sentences in a way few married couples are able to do. Their laughter was infectious and we were all so grateful to catch a glimpse of such rare camaraderie. Adrienne Barbeau called in and answered questions as well. Adrienne is performing on Broadway in a play entitled, "The Property Known as Garland." She is also releasing an autobiography, There are Worse Things I Could Do, in which she recounts her vast experience in the world of show business. In it she devotes a number of chapters to her experiences working on Carnivàle. Scott MacDonald mentioned his role in an upcoming DVD-release movie called, "Straight into Darkness" and asked if we could lend some support by asking for it at our favorite movie rental and purchase outlets before it's released on June 6. I hope you'll all take the time to help out.

The morning flew by and soon the next panel took to the stage: Cynthia "Rita Sue" Ettinger, Amanda "Dora Mae" Aday, and Carla "Libby" Gallo. Very quickly, discussions of favorite scenes brought forth waves of emotion and we all had to fight back the tears remembering Dora Mae's funeral and leaving Jonesy behind. I was personally moved just watching as Cynthia Ettinger held the hands and occasionally stroked the hair of her on-screen daughters. Cynthia shared that she will be appearing in Deadwood this upcoming season. Amanda Aday will be starring with Paris Hilton in "National Lampoon's Pledge This!"; and Carla Gallo has a brief appearance in "MI3." John "Gecko" Fleck joined the ladies and recounted the trials and tribulations of make-up and spending a day on the set as a lizard-boy. We were then joined by Ralph "Norman" Waite, Rob "Tommy Dolan" Knepper, K. "Eleanor" Callan, and Clancy "Brother Justin" Brown. It was truly overwhelming and I found my hand cramping trying to take so many notes. Again, the recurring theme among the panelists was how unique and special it was to work on the show. The cast then sat down for an autograph session that seemed to last for hours, but no one complained. Carnies brought all kinds of souvenirs and ephemera for the cast to sign.

Then we all stumbled into the ballroom for a lovely buffet and more conversation. The special guests stood in line and sat among us, giving us even more opportunities to get to know them. We watched Kate's Fan Videos and then came an amazing auction (nothing "mini" about it): autographed scripts, Dora Mae's Shroud, the Wheel of Fortune sign, Sofie's tarot tablecloth (complete with wax drippings), Lodz's absinthe decanter and a whole host of other invaluable goodies. Dan Knauf and Clancy Brown auctioneered, while Beth and the Rousties kept things running smoothly. The bidding was fast and furious as we battled for memorable keepsakes, while Dan and Clancy quipped and bantered, keeping us laughing the entire time.

The evening ended with a special preview from the Season 2 DVD set Special Features, "Magic and Myth: The Meaning of Carnivàle." We were glued to the screen and quite surprised to see a special guest (whom you'll all recognize) giving commentary! As if we weren't hungry enough for Season 2 to be released! By the way, look for the DVD on July 18!!

Sunday morning, we all wandered into the ballroom, sleepy and punch-drunk, to an amazing writers' panel featuring Nicole Yorkin, Dawn Prestwich, Tracy Torme, and Dan Knauf. The team shared some of their favorite deleted scenes and gave us some amazing insights about the freedoms and constraints of writing for television and the compromises made with the network executives. It was fascinating! Tracy Torme was kind enough to share some amusing anecdotes about how well the team worked together and some of the laughs they shared. We left with a far greater understanding of the process and politics of scriptwriting and of course, the differences between Season 1 and Season 2. We even got a glimpse of how Season 3 may have started if it had been given a chance.

The last panel discussed the art of Carnivàle and featured Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko, Paul Breuniger, Rob Hinderstein, and Roger L. King, who brought along a number of props and resources from the show. It was amazing to hear stories of make-up and wardrobe problems, and of course, the infamous dirt; and to see Scudder's decapitated head and the infamous watch fob, among other things, up close was just a priceless experience.

The overwhelming message reiterated in every panel, by every cast and crew member, was that Carnivàle was truly special in every way. All the components worked together in a way that is rare, authentic and simply breathtaking. They were all in as much awe as we when they saw the end product of their work. And we left knowing that we weren't alone in our thinking.

The event was an overwhelming success in no small part to Dan Knauf, Clancy Brown, and Beth Blighton, not to mention the devoted group of Rousties: Susan, Deb, Kate, Allison, Alice, Michelle (who was very much missed!). To you all, on behalf of the Internet community known as SaveCarnivale.org, we thank you!! You gave us enough pie to last a lifetime!

To the cast and crew, who so graciously shared their stories, their laughter, their tears, and most of all, their time, God bless and know that you and the characters into whom you breathed such life, are sorely missed. Thank you so very much!

And to you who are reading, are you ready to pull up stakes? Of course you're not! Sh*t Christmas!! Let's shake some dust and get this story told!!!

For those who couldn't make it, or for those who want to remember every moment, buy the DVD! A 4-disc set documenting the event is available at www.CarnyCon.com. What a great way to remember this fantastic weekend!!

And don't forget CarnyCon Souvenirs can still be purchased at www.CafePress.com/Carnycon!!


Afternoon Panel with Ralph Waite, Amanda Aday, Cynthia Ettinger, Carla Gallo, John Fleck
Ben's Truck--Thanks Skip!
Auction Items

Autograph Line
Beth B. and Debra Christofferson

April's Lincoln Highway Sign

Michael J. Anderson posing with fans

More props!

And more props!

Knights Templar gear

Carnies at dinner


Autographed Watercolor by Breanne Henri
"Ask Me" painted by Breanne Henri
"We will Build it Together" by Breanne Henri

Thanks to Elizabeth (cellosong7) for use of her photos and to Dana (twinb80) for sending us Breanne's artwork.  What great souvenirs!


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