Cincinnati 2018: The 21st International Sons of the Desert (the Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society) Convention

1 – What is this convention about?

This will be the 21 st International Sons of the Desert (the Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society) convention. These conventions have been held bi-yearly since 1978 and on even-numbered years Laurel and Hardy devotees gather to celebrate, embrace, and continue their efforts to further the legacy and keep alive the spirit of the comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Although the focus and main common draw of the convention is Laurel and Hardy, it has always been the people who attend these conventions who are the starring attractions. At these conventions new friendships are initiated, existing friendships are rekindled, and the genial camaraderie of the attendees makes for a most relaxing and enjoyable time. Activities and excursions during the pre-convention and convention are pleasant diversions, but it is really about getting together with a great group of fun individuals who like to laugh!

2 – Who are “The Sons of the Desert”?

We could go on for several pages about what “The Sons of the Desert” represents, what it is supposed to represent, and the types of characters that belong to this group, but perhaps it is just easier (and safer) to direct the reader to see “About the Sons of the Desert” at sonsofthedesertinfo.com. If after reading this you have further questions, just ask anyone at the convention (and although you’ll get a different answer from everyone you ask, you’ll get smiles from all of them).

Is there a local “Tent” or chapter of the Sons of the Desert near me?

Please see “Sons of the Desert Tents” (www.wayoutwest.org/tents/), and “Links to Tents” (www.wayoutwest.org/links.html)

Who can attend the convention? Do I have to belong to a Sons of the Desert tent?

There are no restrictions on who may attend this convention except that you enjoy classic comedy such as that performed by Laurel and Hardy and their contemporaries. You do not have to belong to a chapter, or “Tent” of the Sons of the Desert to attend. This is a social event, with comedy and film lovers in general from around the world in attendance, and thus there will be continual opportunities to meet and make new friends, and for those who have attended previous conventions, a chance to renew old friendships and reacquaint yourselves with like-minded film buffs.

5 When does the convention take place?

The official convention dates are Thursday July 5 through and including Sunday July 19, 2018. Pre-convention activities will take place Monday July 9 through Wednesday July 11. We encourage those who can to come early and stay late especially since the discounted convention hotel rates will be available from Friday July 6 through and including Monday July 16 (based on availability of a standard guestroom).

6 What is the difference between ‘pre-convention’ dates and activities and those occurring during the ‘official convention’ dates?

The ‘pre-convention’ activities are not related to Laurel and Hardy-type activities; they provide early arrivals the opportunity to explore the local area with other early arrivals. The advantage of attending pre-convention activities, aside from having the opportunity to explore Cincinnati in ways not being addressed during the convention, is that you have three full days to get to know your fellow attendees and Sons from all over the world. When the convention proper then begins on Thursday you’ll already have ‘broken the ice’ with many fellow Sons and convention attendees which will enhance your enjoyment of the convention even more. The fantastic hotel rate we will be offering is another incentive for everyone to “come early and stay late” for this convention! The ‘convention’ activities include more directly-related Laurel and Hardy-type activities such as films, contests related to knowledge of their films and the ability to golf (read that as “putt”), discussions or lectures on topics related to Stan and Ollie’s films (or other contemporaries of theirs, especially from the Hal Roach Studios), and so on. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Laurel and Hardy, their films, supporting characters, plots, or anything like that. Even the most casual observer at Sons conventions can’t help growing smiles on their faces at the antics of those “so-called” experts who *think* they know it all (hint: they don’t! – but that’s half the fun!).

7 How many meals will the convention registration fees include, and for how many meals “on my own” will I be responsible?

Your convention hosts are looking to cover a total of four (4) of the eight (8) meals you would regularly schedule during the convention dates. There will also be an hors d’oeuvre reception on Thursday evening.

8 Where is the convention being held?

The official convention hotel will be the downtown Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. General hotel information is available on their website. Specific hotel registration information for the convention, at special convention rates, is available on the “Hotel Information” page on this web site. Hotel registration is now available.

9 Do I have to stay at the host hotel to attend convention events?

Those who wish to stay at alternative accommodations in the area are free to do so; however, all of the convention activities begin and end at the convention hotel early and late in the day and thus the hotel may provide the most convenient location for maximum enjoyment of the activities. In addition, the hotel is offering a tremendous discounted rate for convention-goers, and you’d be mad not to take advantage of this great discount.

10 What is the cost to register for the convention?

Please see the registration form here for details of costs of convention registration, pre-convention activities, dealers’ room tables, and T-shirts.

11 Can individual day passes be purchased for pre-convention or convention activities if you don’t want to attend the entire pre-convention or convention?

The three pre-convention tours on Monday July 9, Tuesday July 10, and Wednesday July 11 are separately priced. Sons attending the full convention may choose to sign up for one or more pre-convention activities and pay the separate costs for each. Individuals not attending the official convention may book pre-convention events separately, but may not purchase separate ‘day passes’ for the Thursday-Sunday full convention activities. At this point, the convention proper will have only one cost for the delegate, which will include all specified activities and meals.

12 How can I register and pay for either or both the pre-convention or convention activities?

Please see the registration form here for details of costs of convention registration, pre-convention activities, dealers’ room tables, and T-shirts.

13 How can I make my hotel reservation for either or both the pre-convention or convention activities?

Please see the information listed under the “Hotel Information” tab at the top of this page.

14How do I get to the convention hotel if I fly into the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)?

Please see the hotel web site where specific directions may be viewed: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/ohio/hilton-cincinnati-netherland-plaza-CVGNPHF/index.html

15 Are scooter and/or wheelchair rental facilities available upon arrival at the hotel?

The Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel will make every effort to ensure that the scooter or wheelchair will be available and on hand when you check-in to register at the hotel or convention registration area. However, you must remember to request the scooter or wheelchair in either the convention or hotel registration forms. Any extra costs associated with the hiring of scooters and/or wheelchair seating will need to be covered by the conventioneer requesting these services.

For any persons wishing to rent a scooter, here are two recommended local Cincinnati scooter providers:

a) Bernen’s Medical Pharmacy (1-513-471-7575). When phoning ask for “Tina”; if she is not available ask for anyone in the equipment department (option 2 when phoning). The equipment department is open M-F 9A-6P and Sat 9A-5P EST.

They cannot reserve scooters more than one week in advance, so please call them within 7 days of your need of them at the Hilton. They will deliver the scooter to the Hilton ahead of time so that it is waiting for you when you arrive. Their most cost-effective rate is $100/week, which is less expensive than ordering a scooter per day since the convention lasts more than two days.

They will need your height and weight to ensure the proper scooter is selected for you. However, capacity on most of their scooters is 300 lbs., and you will need a different scooter if you weigh more than this amount. They only have one scooter available (at additional cost) for such a person.

b) Queen City Med Mart (1-513-733-8100). Use option “zero” (0) when phoning them; “Mike Murphy” is the main contact but anyone else can also assist when you call. Open M-F 9A-5:30P and Sat 9A-4P EST.

They cannot reserve scooters more than 3 weeks in advance, so please call them within 21 days of your need of them at the Hilton. They will deliver the scooter to the Hilton ahead of time so that it is waiting for you when you arrive.

They currently rent scooters at $40/day and $99/week; they require a $225 credit card deposit for scooters delivered to hotels such as the Hilton.

They will need your height and weight to ensure the proper scooter is selected for you. Their scooter weight categories go from up to 260 lbs, 260-300 lbs., and 300-400 lbs.

16 I have my own chimp and would like to bring them along for the convention. How well can I expect my chimp to get along with “Ethel”?

Our Ethel can read, write, play the piano, and milk a cow and thus can join your simian in the following activities: book readings, playwriting, piano duets, and dairy farming. However, when booted in the behind Ethel has been known to seek out firearms, so this particular activity to Ethel will be prohibited during the convention. Ethel also likes to dance a waltz and so ballroom dancing would be another activity in which your primate could join Ethel. Thank you for asking.

17 After I check in at the hotel lobby main desk, where do I go to pick up my convention registration materials?

There will be signs, arrows, and what-not at the main lobby hotel check-in desk providing directions to the convention check-in and registration. The hotel staff behind the lobby desk will also be able to direct you to the convention check-in area.

18 Do I have to wear my registration badge and lanyard at all times during the convention?

Although the convention is a very relaxed affair, this is one hard-and- fast rule: no badge means no admittance to any of the pre-convention or official convention activities. You MUST wear your lanyard and badge at ALL times during the convention or else you will not be permitted to join any meal, film, or discussion activities, or any external event activities. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

19 Can I purchase more than one T-shirt style and/or color? How far in advance must a purchase be made to guarantee I will get the shirt style and color of my choice?

The convention registration form here has a section wherein convention T-shirts may be ordered; however, if you have not sent in your T-shirt order by June 20, 2018 and specified your size(s) by that date, we cannot guarantee that your T-shirt will be ready by the time you arrive to check-in at the convention hotel. If your T-shirt is not available at the time you arrive you may not have a T-shirt to wear during the convention! Thus, it is another reason to make sure you complete an early registration for the convention. If you do not have a shirt during the convention but would like to purchase one to be sent to you after the convention, please indicate this when you check-in at the convention registration area. There may be a few “generic” convention T-shirts available for sale at check-in, but we cannot guarantee availability of particular sizes, colors, or styles at that time.

20 I have certain food allergies and/or food restrictions. How can I make sure these limitations on my diet are adhered to during the pre-convention and convention?

When you register for the convention, please add a note indicating any food allergies or restrictions. Meals provided outside the host hotel (e.g. Riverboat Ride) will include beforehand inquiries about food arrangements for those with dietary restrictions. Every effort will be made to provide everyone with something tasty to eat according to their dietary preferences.

21 Am I required to attend all convention activities that are scheduled?

No, you may attend whatever activities catch your fancy; if you wish to be a recluse in your room while everyone else is having a grand old time at a convention activity, you may certainly do so. The Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel is, however, as grand a hotel as you would ever want to be in, and thus if there was ever a situation (or location) where the hotel itself might compete with a convention going on inside it, this would be that situation. However, we’d miss your laughs at the convention activities and so do hope you’ll want to leave your room at some point and join in on the convention fun!

22 Will celebrities be attending the convention?

Cincinnati is not Hollywood, California and it will be 2018 not 1980 – while we will seek out any opportunities to invite notable persons who have been associated with Laurel and Hardy, Roach films, and Hollywood in general in the past, we cannot guarantee that notable film celebrities will be able to join us at the convention.

23 How much “time on your own” will be included during the convention? Will there be time to visit Cincinnati area attractions in my own personal interest areas?

There will be lots of free time during the pre-convention days such that you can explore part(s) of Cincinnati that meet your individual interest area(s), e.g. the casino, museums, restaurants, etc. Upon registering for the convention you will be given information on downtown and close destinations that you may wish to visit during the convention, time permitting.

24 What is the best way to keep up on convention plans, and when will registration be available?

If you have signed up for the e-mail alert for the newsletter on the convention website, you will be fully informed before anyone else. Checking the website from time to time will help, too. Some pre-convention events may have a limited number of attendees allowed. It is even possible that there may even be a cap on the convention numbers depending on hotel room availability and venue capacity; thus we encourage everyone to register and sign-up for the convention and hotel accommodation at the earliest convenience. Those who have registered for e-mail alerts via the newsletter will be notified first when registration and hotel forms will be accepted. It may be a first-come, first-served basis and, at this point, with a large attendance could even sell out. We should be so lucky…

25 Will there be a dealers’ room or table(s) where convention attendees can purchase memorabilia related to Laurel and Hardy and classic film comedies?

There will most definitely be a room or rooms in which dealers may showcase their items of interest to conventioneers. Past dealers’ rooms have had vendors offering films, buttons, books, recordings, collectibles, and many other items of interest to everyone. If you are interested in renting a space as a vendor to sell your items, please make sure you have signed up for the convention newsletter as you will then be informed of the costs associated with setting up your table(s) in the dealers’ room during the convention. The dealers’ room will be open during the Thurs-Sat evenings until 2AM and again on Sunday after the brunch has concluded.

26 When can I sign up for the fun?

Convention and hotel registrations are currently open; while you may reserve your hotel reservation at any time, we only have a limited number of rooms reserved at the special convention rate and thus we would again urge you to make your hotel booking asap if you have not already done so to get the special discounted rate. On the other hand (or paw if you’re like Ethel), convention registrations will close on June 20 and all requests to attend the convention must be received by that date. No fooling. Ethel wouldn’t lie about a thing like this. June 20.

27 How can I pay for the Convention?

All payments must be in USD; check, money order, or PayPal payments will be accepted, but please note there is a 5% additional fee required for all orders paid via PayPal. Please see the convention registration form here for details. Please note that wire transfer payments will also be accepted if other listed payment options above are not possible. Please contact the convention committee at [email protected] to receive additional bank account information required for such money transfers. NOTE: An additional fee of 8% over and above your calculated convention costs in USD is required and must be included in the total amount of your payment.

28 What are cut-off dates for registration or to cancel?

Cancellations in writing (signature confirmation required) are accepted until June 20, 2018. A $50USD cancellation fee will be charged plus cost of converting moneys into foreign funds if applicable. A $50USD charge will be made for returned checks. No refunds can be made after June 20, 2018.

29 Can I drive to the convention from London, England?

If you plan on driving from the UK to Cincinnati, Ohio we recommend using a Quandt Amphicar, a General Motors DUKW, or a similar vehicle. Also, bear in mind that there will be no place to stop between Northton and Reykjavik (1850 km), so you will probably want to bring extra snacks.

30 – Do I need to belong to a Tent or chapter of the Sons of the Desert in order to register and attend the convention?

Look, we already addressed this question in FAQ no. 4 above, but since you were daydreaming about pushing pianos up stairways we’ll repeat it again: No, you do not need to be a member of the Sons of the Desert in order to attend the convention. All you need to want to do is have a swell time in Cincinnati at the convention! Get it? Got it? Good!

31 – What if I buy so many souvenirs and memorabilia that I can’t pack them all to take home?

Fear not! There is a FedEx shop less than a block from the hotel that can pack and ship them for you. Use ground delivery, and you can arrive before your cargo.