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 12 through Sunday July 15, 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 six (6) of the eight (8) meals you would regularly schedule during the convention dates. This only leaves two lunches (Friday and Saturday) for attendees to cover “on their own”.

8 Where is the convention being held?

The official convention hotel will be the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. General hotel information is available on their website; when available, specific hotel registration information for the convention, at special convention rates, will be available here and on the home page for this convention web site. Look for hotel registration information for the convention to be available around July-August 2017.

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. We will provide specifics on the hotel rate in due course, and you will be amazed, shocked – and we hope very pleased – at the rate the hotel will offer to convention attendees!

10 What is the cost to register for the convention?

At present, registration fees for either any of the pre-convention activities or the convention itself have not been calculated. Please check back with us frequently to find these costs as soon as they are available. Please sign up on the convention newsletter to be kept regularly informed of convention updates, including the costs. Registration information to join the newsletter may be obtained by clicking this link to the newsletter page.

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?

If you have signed up for the convention newsletter you will be informed asap when payment procedures have been finalized. These instructions will also be entered on to the convention web site when they are available. Please also see question no. 26 in this FAQ section.

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

The Hilton will not allow reservations until eleven (11) months prior to the convention. We will be sending out many reminders to those who have signed up on the registration list when registrations will be accepted by the hotel. At that time we will post a link on the convention web site which will take you directly to the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel web site registration page. Alternatively you may click on the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel web page directly. When making your reservations please indicate a special code (to be determined) which will indicate that you are to receive the very special convention hotel rate of $145 per night.

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?

On the convention registration form there will be space to request either a scooter or wheelchair if needed. 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.

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 web site will have a separate page for T-shirts which include instructions on when and how to order. There will be several shirt options; however, if you have not registered by June 9, 2018 and specified your T-shirt options 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, there will be a place on the form to indicate whether you require special consideration for meals. However, 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 Netherland Hilton 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. We envisage “Midnight Madness” on several nights as well as a fun ‘clearance sale’ after the conclusion of the brunch on Sunday morning.

26 When can I sign up for the fun?

When convention registration costs have been calculated they will be made available to everyone who has registered for the convention newsletter and through the various Laurel and Hardy-related sites on the internet. We anticipate (with a touch of hope thrown in for good measure) announcing the pre- and regular-convention fees by early-2017 along with the hotel costs. Intelligent (and interested) individuals may sign up with payment of convention registration fees by early-2017 (or sooner), while hotel bookings should be available by July-August 2017.

27 How can I pay for the Convention?

The preferred convention payment instructions will be announced in the convention newsletter and also provided on the convention web site. We are discussing whether or not to accept any other forms of payment such as checks, PayPal, and so on; if you have signed up to receive the convention newsletter you will be informed of payment options as soon as they are available.

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

Registration fees will go up $75.00 as of April 6, 2018. Cancellations in writing (signature confirmation required) are accepted until April 6, 2018 with full refund. No refunds after April 9, 2018. (Note: Online payments will be available. Details on online payments, transaction fees, and transaction refunds will be announced in the future.)