MuggleNet: Are [you] both originally from the Atlanta area? If not, how did you find yourselves here, and do you foresee the city as CONjuration's permanent home?
Both of us are originally from the Atlanta area. Chris has lived here his entire life. Angela spent her early school years in Miami but was born here and came back by the time she was a senior in high school.
Atlanta will always be the home for CONjuration. There are plans formulating for some one-day 'mini-conjuration' around the southeast (Savannah, Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham, etc.), but those are still in the formulation stages.
MN: How long did it take for Chris's Harry Potter summer camp to begin inspiring you to, well, conjure CONjuration? Have you ended up seeing any of the children's families at CONjuration?
Chris has been running Harry Potter summer camps for the last six years. When he posted an announcement about the 2013 camp on Facebook, he shared the responses he was getting from many of his friends with Angela, most of which included the comment, 'When are you going to run one for adults?' (a question he received from his friends EVERY year). I looked at him and asked, 'You know what they call a summer camp for adults? A convention.' That became the basis for our marketing survey among the various convention attendees that we met over the next six months. The response was overwhelming, and we moved forward with our plans.
We had a couple of the HP Camp families attend the first CONjuration and even more this year! At least one young lady from camp attended with at least five other family members!
MN: We've read that you intend to cap the event at 1,200 attendees going forward. How did you arrive at that number, and how do you feel it worked out this year after last year's approximate 800 attendees?
Our numbers increased this year by about 300, bringing us to just over 1,000. Chris came up with the 1,200 number out last year, but after discussions [between] ourselves, and our staff members, the new hotel size and configuration, and the popularity that is fairly obvious, we are thinking a number of around 2,000 maximum would suit the show better. CONjuration is not looking to ever be supersized. We want to stay intimate and family oriented. The current hotel has comfortably held many conventions in the past with memberships exceeding 2,000, and [since] our plans are to stay here for the next few years, this number seems to be a perfect stopping point! We want to keep the convention small enough for everyone to get a chance to meet and a place for our attendees to call home. We aren't going to expand beyond our 'magical borders.' Keep it magic[al] and keep it homey!
MN: Now for something fun that many attendees were buzzing about throughout the weekend... Whose idea was it to hold a surprise wedding at opening ceremonies, and how long had you two been keeping it a secret? (You did a fantastic job at pulling it off!)
We got engaged in June. After [Chris] popped the question, I asked [him], 'Where and when?' to which he responded, 'Well...... I have an idea.....' Chris threw the idea at me, and I agreed that it would be really cool. CONjuration is our home, and the people that make it happen are our family. What better place to hold a wedding then with your geekiest family members? Only a handful of the staff members were aware of the wedding, and that made it so much more magical!
MN: Lastly, are there any sneak peeks you can reveal to us about next year's iteration of CONjuration? We understand if you want to keep it all under wraps, but we're all just so excited about seeing how the event develops! It definitely has a bright future from what we saw this weekend.
There will be many new things for CONjuration 2016! Last year, Chris promised a photo booth that would look like an action figure box. Sadly, the deluge of rain that Georgia has experienced over the last two months prevented him from finishing the booth (it's built, jut not completely painted yet). This WILL be finished! There will be a listening station (that has a lit-up call sign!) that will provide attendees with an opportunity to hear magically based old-time radio programs as well as some newer audio projects. Some of the rooms will be reconfigured to provide for better accessibility to the more popular shows. There will be another round (or two) of the live-action Choose Your Own Adventure Game that proved to be IMMENSELY popular (and was a first for any convention that we know of). While we are still going through many of the panel ideas that were thrown at our panelist over the course of the weekend, I can tell you that there will be at least two new Sorting Hat panels (VERY popular!) that we've never done before. We are already looking for fan film projects around the world that we can highlight in our video room, new gaming tournaments that we can offer, and new, creative, interactive activities that everyone will enjoy!