Posted by D_Martin on September 21, 2012 at 11:50 PM CST
Celebration VI was my third Star Wars Celebration and my second since joining the team here at TheForce.Net. This time around, thanks to the experience of planning for Celebration V, I was better prepared in advance for the array of activities and responsibilities that awaited me in Orlando. I precisely arranged my schedule, leaving several hours of free time in each day for the unexpected (first rule of Celebration: expect the unexpected!). I mapped out exactly which freebies I wanted to snag and even noted who I needed to look out for so I could meet them in-person for the first time.

While not everything went as planned (I underestimated just how massive the line for Ian McDiarmid?s interview could get and I missed out on the whole fan club patch set), Celebration VI was still a complete blast.

I made it to almost every panel on my schedule, and I wrote up lengthy TFN reports from a few of them. In addition to those panels, I hit a few other events ?? and of course, I stayed social in the evenings. Day One (Thursday) consisted of The Clone Wars Tech, the first ForceCast live show, the Timothy Zahn Retrospective, and the TFN/FanForce/Rebelscum/ForceCast party. Day Two (Friday) began with a great panel about the future of Del Rey and continued with the Inside the ForceCast panel and The Clone Wars Season 5 red carpet and premiere. On Day Three (Saturday), I attended the big TCW Season 5 preview panel, the Star Wars Detours, The Future of Star Wars in 3D panel, and Kyle Newman?s CVI-exclusive audio drama ?Smuggler?s Gambit.? As things wrapped up on Day Four (Sunday), I stopped by the second ForceCast live show and attended the Closing Ceremonies.

What I left out of that brief recap were the two panels that I had the pleasure to join as a participant. I actually moderated the first one, ?Star Wars and NASA: Science Fiction and Science Fact,? on Saturday, along with my friend from NASA, Holly Griffith. I had a great time hearing from several of Holly?s co-workers about the intersection of fantasy and reality. On Sunday, I was on the ?Why We Love The Prequels? panel, the sequel to the panel I participated in at Celebration V. Once again, we got great feedback from the audience ?? it?s obvious to me that Prequel love is alive and well in Star Wars fandom!

One of the highlights of my experience at Celebration VI was the opportunity I had to cover the red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5 for TheForce.Net. This was my first red carpet, and I wasn?t fully prepared for the hysteria that ensued when series cast members like Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, and Sam Witwer made their appearances. I had a great time standing a few feet away from The ForceCast?s Jason Swank and Jimmy Mac as they interviewed the cast and supervising director Dave Filoni. There was an excitement in the air that can only come from a new episode of The Clone Wars being screened at a Star Wars Celebration.

After the red carpet event, I filed inside with the other members of the press and grabbed a reserved seat in the second row of the left-most seating section. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that I was seated right behind Dave Filoni and right in front of Seth Green, Clare Grant, and Sam Witwer. It was interesting to watch Sam?s reactions to various moments in the Season 5 premiere episode, ?Revival.?

While my schedule was indeed quite packed, I had the chance to say hello to many of the people who make Star Wars fandom the awesome community that it is. At the Her Universe booth, I talked to Ashley Eckstein, whose passion for Star Wars and geek girls is rivaled only by her vocal talent as Ahsoka Tano. At the Del Rey booth, I finally met the publishing company?s Star Wars team, including Erich Schoeneweiss, Frank Parisi, and Shelly Shapiro. It was great to finally talk Star Wars in person with Erich and Frank, my editors over at Del Rey?s Suvudu blog. I also met many Star Wars fans whom I know from Twitter and Facebook. Celebrations are always great places to see old friends and new faces.

Even so, there wasn?t enough time to do everything. I missed the Ian McDiarmid and Mark Hamill interviews, as well as James Arnold Taylor?s one-man show and his interview with Carrie Fisher. Scheduling misfortunes meant that I didn?t get the chance to attend Leland Chee?s Holocron panel or the panel about the Essential Guides. I also didn?t run into as many of my ?Internet friends? as I would have liked. There will always be a next time, though.

To the people I did get the chance to meet: thank you. Our conversation, no matter how brief, made Celebration VI that much more enjoyable for me. The community of which I am a part continually enriches my life, and I?m very grateful to my friends and the people who read my work at TheForce.Net for making me feel so ?at home? when I go to these conventions.

Of course, my presence at Celebration VI and the incredible experiences I enjoyed there would not have been possible without Philip Wise, the founder of Rebelscum. I want to thank him for bringing me out to Celebration VI so I could contribute to what I believe was our best convention coverage yet. I am truly fortunate to be working with a group of people at TheForce.Net,, and The ForceCast who love Star Wars as much as I do. Whether it?s in the frantic environment of a Celebration or on one of our regular email threads, their wit and wisdom substantially improve my experience of being a Star Wars fan.

And now, since recapping my experience at Celebration VI was almost as fun as actually being there?who?s ready for Celebration VII?!
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