we managed to park on the very opposite end of the convention center, and walked around rather aimlessly trying to figure out where the event was. finally this tiny sign pointed us in the right direction:
and then after a little more clueless strolling around, we finally found this.
the check-in area was in a rather poorly lit little hallway, but since we'd arrived well after the convention opened there was no one in line. instead of paper wristbands, we got these:
when we finally walked in we found that the room, while nice and big with plenty of room to walk around, was just as badly lit as the check-in desks had been. were they trying to save on electricity? i don't know, but it sure was depressing looking in there for what was supposed to be a fun, sugar-filled cookie and sweets convention.
following lilcee's advice, who'd gotten there about 15 minutes ahead of us, we joined the line along one wall to spin a wheel for a chance at a fun prize that i knew the bean would adore:
while she's not really big on traditional toys, she does adore these num noms. they're cute little toys shaped like various treats and desserts, and some of them have lip gloss in them and others are a cute little stamp. a few of them are motorized, so they can be used in some of the num noms playsets. the line was pretty long, but it moved fairly quickly and pretty soon it was our turn to spin that wheel.
we all won a toy, with the bean and the old lady's special friend scoring a bigger "lunch box" set. after examining their loot, the bean and mini cee moved on to the next booth in the kids zone - cookie decorating sponsored by "baking with melissa." she does cupcake decorating parties in the greater l.a. area and seems to be doing really well with her little business. i'd met melissa at the first cookie con we attended, when we both nearly got run over by a car in the parking structure, and we've been instagram buddies ever since.
tucked away in a little corner was a table where they had their celebs signing autographs and taking photos. i had no idea who this was, but a quick look at my guide told me it was olivia sanabia, who apparently stars on an amazon series and has made appearances in various nickelodeon shows. the bean didn't recognize her either, and so we didn't get in line to meet her.
the girls decided that they were willing to wait in line to have their faces painted. it was a relatively short line, but it moved really slowly with just one artist at the station. it was sponsored by l.a. weekly magazine, and when they got closer to the front they were asked a few questions on camera. my kid loves this stuff, man.
considering the fact that she despises makeup, it always surprises me when she wants to have her face painted. it's the same thing, kid. oy.
while we were waiting for face paint, the celebrity that both girls were excited to see was making her way up to the main stage. lilcee attempted to grab some seats for them, but ended up standing in the back instead. we found her after the faces were done and watched and listened to the Q and A portion of the show. this is rosanna pansino, author of nerdy nummies with almost 5 million subscribers on youtube.
as the old lady, her special friend and i waited behind the crowd, we realized we were leaning up against a barricade behind where the batmobile was randomly on display.
apparently, burt ward of the old 60s "batman" tv show was there promoting his dog rescue organization.
there were lots of people wearing these silly cupcake balloons on their heads. we would've gotten some for the girls too, but the line was insanely long for the balloon artist - we overheard some folks mention some craziness like 45 minutes to an hour. no thanks.
i never got around to taking a picture of it, but i'd gotten one of those blue totes too, as part of my VIP ticket. inside there was a unicorn-shaped cookie cutter, an applesauce pouch and some flyers from a few of the vendors in the room.
lilcee had managed to score us a number for the line to meet rosanna, which is really all the girls wanted to do that day. we were number 83, and with that secured, we didn't have to wait in line and were free at last to roam through the aisles, grabbing samples and checking out the merchandise for sale. we stopped at the nothing but bundt booth and happily picked up samples of their red velvet, lemon and chocolate cakes.
not too far away was the del rio booth, where they were serving up little cups full of carnitas and other delicious savory mexican dishes.
otis spunkmeyer was giving out full-sized samples of their lemon loaf, cream-filled cakes and chocolate cookies. yum.
and just a few feet away was ken jeong, from the "hangover" movies and tv's "dr. ken." the line was crazy long for him, but i got the old lady's special friend to take this for me. he's crazy tall and was able to get a pretty decent shot from where we were standing.
more samples - juice, edible cookie dough, cookie butter, wine. WINE!
you know me - i don't even particularly like wine, but apparently i dig the cheap stuff. bring on the stella rosa!
the process for meeting rosanna (or "ro," as the girls referred to her) was ridiculously unorganized, to put it lightly. there was a super long line along the back wall that we found out was to get a number (thanks again to lilcee for getting that shit early), and then we got in another line in number order to wait for our turn for the meet & greet. but with the line extending back to god knows where, with no one willing to scoot back and make room or leave walkways clear for others who weren't waiting in line, we were in danger of getting trampled or passing out from lack of fresh air. they moved us around a couple of times and then finally instructed everyone to take a seat at the main stage area and wait for our number to be called. it was crazy and annoying and frustrating, and i couldn't understand how the organizers still hadn't figured that shit out.
as we waited, there was a boy setting up onstage for a cake demonstration. i didn't know who he was, but apparently he won some cooking competition show with a $10K prize. the cookie con website didn't list him, but it was rather entertaining to watch him up there. he worked on assembling a multi-layer rainbow cake using some rather thick chocolate buttercream frosting, and as he worked he took questions from audience members.
when he was done, i caught a glimpse of sarah from "masterchef junior" a couple of seasons back.
i'd guess that our total wait for the girls to meet their youtube celebrity was somewhere around two hours. considering that we'd spent about that much time waiting for our chance to meet nick jonas a couple of weeks ago, i figured that the bean and the old lady were even now. and she and mini cee occupied themselves by going through the num noms they had collected that day.
when it was finally time for our group to head up to the area where ro was i noticed that elise strachan, founder of my cupcake addiction with over 2 million youtube subscribers, was chatting with her. now, i had never heard of this lady before, but i guess she's pretty established in the cupcake world. she had been scheduled to appear the day before but had had to postpone till today. anyway, that's her in the pink.
after mini cee had her meet & greet, it was the bean's turn. she was super excited and starstruck, which was cute to watch. and rosanna was really friendly and super sweet (heh) to her.
lilcee and i decided that we'd get a picture too, since we waited so long. might as well, right? and we look like giants next to her.
by then, we'd had enough of the place. and on our way out, we noticed that a good number of vendors were already packing up or gone, which was odd considering it was only 3:00 and the show was supposed to run until 5. and that VIP lounge? pfffft. damn near empty.
i don't know why i keep coming to this thing. glutton for punishment, i guess? it's not like we even came out with a bunch of samples or any good merchandise. it was a drive out to downtown l.a., $20 for parking, a badly lit room with a limited number of vendors and stuff to do, and incredibly unorganized. and when i was reading posts on their facebook page, it was obvious that they were deleting negative comments. so shady. i see they're doing one in san diego in september, and hopefully they'll have a better turnout down there since it'll be their first time there. as for me...well, never say never, but i don't really plan on coming out again if they do it again in 2018.