Last Friday, August 12th was the 2011 edition of Orange Fanfest. Thanks to the artwork I have been doing recently for SU Athletics and my t-shirt designs for Manny’s, I was asked to attend as a guest. I'd be selling my shirts and doing sketches for fans. I was honored but also a little apprehensive. I’ve been to comic book conventions and book signings as a guest. In those situations, both sides of the table know what to expect. This was a completely different animal. I was a little nervous about how my shirts and artwork would be accepted by my fellow ‘Cuse fans.
The event was held at the Les Vielbig Track next to Coyne Field. Last year, there was nothing but dirt in the middle of that track. This year there was a brand new turf field with a big, bright, beautiful Orange "S" in the middle of it. I was told to set up my table in between the Tops and Dunkin Donuts tables. Dangerous place to put me.
Soon my wife and two kids arrived and were off to the bouncy things. They had much more for kids to do this year as opposed to last year. Dunkin Donuts had a bean bag toss with various prizes at stake. There were multiple bounce houses and other bounce related apparatuses. Plenty of food, free and otherwise. I could see a basketball hoop set up in the distance but I’m not sure what was going on there. I didn’t really leave my table the entire 3+ hours.
The highlight of the day was when I saw my 6 year old daughter running towards me yelling, "Otto is coming!" I figured that meant he was making the rounds and may be passing by. Nope. Otto came right up to my table and started signing my shirts for anyone who bought one. I gotta say that was pretty cool. Like I was being accepted by Otto. I got a hug and my own shirt signed. It was quite the moment.
I also loved meeting so many of you that I talk to on an almost daily basis on nunesmagician.com and on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I even signed a copy of "How To Grow An Orange"! It was so cool to put a face to the avatar. You have all been so supportive and all of this is happening because of you. I can’t thank you enough. Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with me.
While Otto was one of the highlights of the day, the thing I will take away from all of this is spending the day with my Dad. He is the reason I bleed Orange. Neither one of us attended Syracuse University, but my Dad started taking me to games when I was about 9 years old. That’s over 25 years of going to games together. He was there when I cried myself to sleep when I was 11 years old and Keith Smart hit "that" shot. We went crazy in our basement as we listened to the radio call of Michael Owens scoring the 2 point conversion against WVU. He was my 1st phone call in 2003 when you know what happened and on and on and on. I asked him to come along to help handle the selling of my shirts while I tried to keep up with sketches. Not 15 minutes would go by throughout the day where my Dad would turn to me and say, "This is so freakin’ cool!" I agreed every time.
At one point there was a huge line at one of the tables to my right. I thought maybe they were giving away donuts or something. No. It was just Floyd Little signing autographs. That’s all. Now, I’m not old enough to have seen Floyd play, but my Dad has told me many stories about going to Archbold Stadium to see him play. I wanted to leave my table to go get an autograph, but didn't.
Since I was at my table the entire time, I didn’t get a chance to see any of the football practice. I tried sneaking peeks over there but couldn’t really see. The bleachers were full of Orange fans the entire time. Good job, fans!
When practice was over, the team made it’s way to the many tables set up at the track. Since the event was now over, I left my table and went with my kids as they got their team posters signed. Give credit to the team, who just had full on football practice for over 2 hours on a sunny 80+ degree day and are now being asked to sign autographs for hundreds of fans. Each player that my young kids gave their poster to was unbelievably polite and engaging. That’s how you make young fans fans for life.
All in all, a pretty amazing day. People couldn’t have been nicer to me. I outfitted a lot more fans with my artwork, got to hang out with some very cool Orange fans, and spent another ‘Cuse filled day with my Dad. Looking forward to another fun season of SU Football!
I'll be doing a drawing for each football game again this season (more on that someday soon). Also, more shirts will hopefully be coming out soon. This is all amazing to me. I started doing these drawings just because I love SU sports and that's what I love to draw. That is still the reason I do it, but it has grown into something bigger. Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, I can share these drawings, my love letter to SU sports, with my fellow 'Cuse fans. I'm thrilled and honored that so many of you like my work. I hope I can live up to any expectations I may have set last year. Thank you all again so much.
If you're interested in any of my shirts, they can be found at Manny's on Marshall Street as well as the University Sports Shops in Shoppingtown and Great Northern Malls. I'm also told that they will be available at The Great New York State Fair. You can also find them online here:
Beast of the East
Thanks for reading! Go Orange!