I received a phone call today from Jefferson Tourism Director, Jeff Campbell, about the Nightmare Machine event and how it effected the city. Apparently their annuals events were blown away by this one because of the community we brought to them, how polite our community is, and how we interact with people. I handed off the list of complaints I received from this group alone, and then made some suggestions.
The idea of us not returning has them super upset and (literally) begging us to please find a way to reconsider the decision, as they are willing (now) to become sponsors to the event, and (now) understand just how serious we are about what we do. They openly admit to the fact that they didn't take us serious and thought that we'd end up being nothing worth their time. The shops there report back that their sales from our attendees over whelmled them and made sales from their Boo Run, Candlelight event, or other events pale in comparison to our event. They offered to bring in full on food vendors (not carnival style stuff, as I told them that we appreciate real food), and places to sit in shade and be comfortable.
I was also asked for those who received racist experiences to PLEASE write about it and send it to Jeff Campbell so he can bring this important topic to the city council to be handled. They were very upset to hear about these cases. I also told them they air conditioning in the Visitor Center needs attention, and they let us know they found out on Tuesday that one of the valves had frozen and been damaged in trying to compensate for the heat that suddenly hit us. So they have fixed this (not that it helps now, but at least they are aware). I told them TRASH CANS are a must around town! They said they've been discussing this issue off and on for some time, and I said that they lucked out with our crowd because we're polite enough to hold onto our trash until we find a proper place to dispose of it instead of littering everywhere. They said they noticed this and were impressed because typically they have to hire a crew after every event to clean up the trash strewn about. So, as I am told - we left a HUGE impression on that city like they've never seen before. The words, "After glow" were expressed to me about the city's view on The Nightmare Machine coming into their town. Jeff has offered to come to the DFW community directly himself and talk to the folks here (we'd do a streaming video conference for those who are further away but interested in being a part of this meeting) about what the city is willing to do to help bring Steampunk back to their town and keep it as a part of their heritage.
Now - will we be planning this again next year? No. If we consider even going back, it will be at least a couple of years from now. SIS needs time to focus on recovery, and on the goals we have had our sights on for some time now. We are pleased that we have impacted an entire city and possibly even an entire region with the way the Steampunk community operates. However, another convention like the one we had is not entirely out of the question, it's just not in the plans right now. That would give us time to plan out properly as we need to, and give the city of Jefferson enough time to correct the things that were wrong with them directly.
What I can say with certainty is that they want the feed back directly from you all who had things to say. They want your letters, complaints, compliments, suggestions, and so forth. Be honest! They've never had a community voice their problems, which is why they never improve upon the issues.
Write to Jeff Campbell at:
Jefferson Department of Tourism
Feedback on Nightmare Machine
305 E. Austin St.
Jefferson, Texas 75657.
He will take these letters to the next city council meeting and these will become the topics of importance that the city focuses on.
A final word: It has been confirmed that the "Red River Steampunk Society" has been born from The Nightmare Machine convention and is now 30 member strong and growing in the East Texas/Louisiana region.
[Editor's note: The Red River Steampunk Society is now over 180 members in just the short time since this report was presented...although the length of their society name has grown as well. They already have a Steampunk Christmas Event in the works, and are soliciting advice and support from the DFW Steampunk Illumination Society who introduced them to Steampunk at the Nightmare Machine]