Fantasia Fair Memories!

| Jul 7, 2014
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Fantasia Fair 2007 – 2013 and beyond — a trip report by Jan Brown

fanfair01When I used to go to a TG conference or big group get-together, I would write a trip report to show the members of my support group, Mid-Hudson Valley Transgender Association (MHVTA), how it went. I have since stopped doing the trip reports but thought TGForum readers might be interested in a report about attending the Fantasia Fair in Provincetown (out on the tip of Cape Cod) from Sunday to Sunday — kind of like a trip report.

From the Fantasia Fair website:

“Fantasia Fair is a week-long transgender event that attracts people from the entire range of the GLBT community — crossdressers, transsexuals, intersex individuals, M2Fs, F2Ms, and their significant others are all welcome.

The 2013 ad. (Click to see it larger.)

The 2013 ad. (Click to see it larger.)

Started in 1975, “FanFair” is the oldest and longest-running gathering of transgender persons for mutual education, support, collaboration and socializing. Every year the Fair grows in its scope, character, and assistance to the gender explorer. FanFair continues to be the leading annual program promoting an individual’s ability to thrive in a real-life situation, and receive positive reinforcement and encouragement. This allows the cross dresser, MTF transsexual, FTM transsexual and all the gender diverse to experience life in an open and caring environment — something unique in a world that typically has difficulty understanding and accepting gender diversity.

Couples find support, friendship and caring, and enjoy the opportunity to share and partake of workshops and sessions that explore and recognize the ups and downs of a TG partnership.

Fantasia Fair promises to be an exciting, fun, and educational opportunity. Your CD or TS self will be able to develop confidence by exploring life in a real community without boundaries. Attendees can spend a full week or part of a week in beautiful Provincetown, enjoying the seaside beauty and the friendship of many wonderful T folks. Yes, you will make friends you will keep forever.”

And this year, Fantasia Fair will hold its 40th annual event. It’s the longest running TG event in the world.

“There was lots going on at the conference —

  • Workshops, seminars, panel discussions addresses from community leaders and notables
  • Banquets, buffets, daily luncheons, coffee klatches and a night on the town
  • Evening Entertainment (performances, fashion show, talent show)
  • Awards, fundraisers for local charities and scholarships
  • Spouse support par excellence

and time for learning, socializing and networking.. and just having fun.”


To get the spirit of the convention, I used to ask friends to respond to the following questions:

Question: What was your reason to attend FanFair? What did you expect before you went?

Janice said doing her thing. “My reason to attend was that I knew Ptown would offer a completely accepting place and that for a whole week and I could be myself without reservation. That alone was a powerful incentive in itself to attend. Also, I knew that with the attendance there would be a wonderful set of collective knowledge that I could learn from and that there would likely also be the opportunity to meet wonderful people in which I had a lot in common with. This last one especially proved true as I met many great people that I am proud to call friends. My expectations were certainly fully met.”

A couple responds saying “I went to support my spouse and I was a little nervous about going until she explained that it would just be a really good group meeting.” The spouse said “My reason for attending were to advance my education and refine my fem deportment. “

Jan: I had heard such wonderful things from friends who had attended in the past and they raved about the whole week. You get a totally accepting town, great scenery (as if we were able to see much of it if you got involved in attending things) and warmth and hospitality from everyone. My first Fantasia Fair was full of anticipation and I expected to meet new people and have a good time. I’d already gone to transgender events which were over a long weekend where I had a great time. I enjoy listening to presentations and learning something I can use. I anticipated I’d have to bring a few outfits which I could use over the week. I knew I’d be walking so I packed a few comfortable shoes (yes.. those are so important). But I didn’t expect to be so affected in a good way. Fantasia Fair worked for me and I fell in love with it. It was a whole week of transgender immersion … I walked to lunch daily to one of 3 or 4 restaurants right through downtown and got to meet everyone. Provincetown was very welcoming.


A first time attendee commented “I had no idea what to expect from Fantasia Fair. I’d never been to a transgender conference before. Going in, I thought the main benefit would be the simple act of living as a woman for a week.

It’s the basic truth of Fantasia Fair. The experience was a sort of time bomb. At the time, it seemed very laid back, more like a vacation than a conference, but unexpectedly it’s had a huge and growing impact on me in the weeks since I came back home. For the first time, presenting female in public is fulfilling instead of an ordeal, a major benchmark for me since I plan to transition permanently.”

A friend from upstate New York who attended previous Fairs said ”My expectations on arrival were quite different than those on departing. On arrival the thought was “this is the last year.” At the time of departure, I signed up for next year. What was the change factor? SOCIALIZATION that can only be obtained at Fantasia Fair. Someone said that the fashion show turned it around for them last year. Well, it did the same for me. I had FFS last year and I was at another convention and people recognized the change. But it really sank in at the fashion show and I became “alive.” I would not say it’s the Fair itself, but the people around me and the interaction, the tips and oh yes, the Tuesday evening Fashion Show.”

Kristin Beck at the Fashion Show.

Kristin Beck at the Fashion Show.

Question: What were the things you most enjoyed or appreciated?

Jan: Each day brought new things. I found thoughtfulness at registration and felt totally enveloped in a bubble of acceptance and met a lot of new and already friends. It turned it was such a kick! I got to participate in the fashion show and attended several of the presentations (ex: BYOI = “Bring Your Own Issues,” another group presentation about sharing gratitude and love with your significant other and some really challenging keynotes by well known “perts” in the TG community including Helen Boyd, Veronica Vera, Jamison Green, Hawk Stone and Miqqi Gilbert. I passed people on the street who were friendly and courteous and never heard an untoward comment.

The spouse couple SO said “The company was the best, getting to meet all those great ladies (and gents). To stay at a really lovely inn where I felt very very pampered, it was just glorious there. The weather was great as was the scenery but the best part of all was having my beloved with me for five whole days.”

A friend said “The things most enjoyed or appreciated was meeting the wonderful people I met and the friendly atmosphere, the great people who own the inn in which I stayed, and the acceptance by the people of PTown as you moved about and experienced their hometown.”

fanfair09The couple’s TG partner said “There was but one thing and that was spending true quality time with friends in our most natural state (en femme) and the length of time I was able to spend there.”

Jan: The Fair is something to everyone and it depends on what you are looking for as to what is special. One thing which was special was the fact that significant others (SOs) were so well represented and active. They had specific SO workshops and meetings set up just for them. In other conferences, you see the TG community and the presentations are geared toward them with the doctors. coming in to promote their business. It wasn’t the case here. Yes, there were a few presentations focused on hormones and surgery but it was more focused on the total transgender experience and runs the gamut from instructional to personal. One of the things I was able to do for me personally was I took home a sense of gratitude for my spouse who allows me space for Jan but is only oh so slowly becoming involved over the last few years and that I was able to share with her to say she is so special. I think each Fair I attended allowed me to grow and become realistic to who I am but also not forgetting who I am.

Quickie Question: What was the funniest thing that happened?

Spouse Couple TG: “I suppose it was when I changed back to drab that hardly anyone recognized me.”

A friend from back home said “The funniest thing was when I went on my merry way thru town with the price and size tag still attached to my garment! Embarrassing!”

Jan's at the Fashion Show. (L)

Jan (L) at the Fashion Show.

Jan: I have had a few thing like the night it poured after the Follies Talent Show evening and everyone was invited to attend a party at a local nightspot and walking down the cobblestone street, up a big hill, and into the night club in open toed high heels in a driving rainstorm hugging onto a friend with her little umbrella trying to avoid the puddles en route. It was like walking in a storm in a short skirt and trying to avoid water at all costs. I learned I don’t shrink. Darn! Another time we were out to dinner and conversation was flying back and forth. A friend and I got started with the giggles and couldn’t stop.

The SO of the Spouse Couple commented “When we met a couple that was staying at the same inn as we were, the GG said “We thought you were a normal couple until we saw you both carrying ball gowns up to the room.” AND another time when we went out for dinner at Napi’s and I had a serious case of the giggles (with Jan). Oh, another thing at Napi’s that was funny was the signs on the bathroom doors were not “Women”/”Men”; it was “Either”/”Or.”

My friend said “I attended many sessions: Stitch and Bitch (knitting), Hormones 101 Getting a Feminine Voice, Starting and Maintaining a Support Group, New Gal Drop-in (daily get together), a talk on being a Sissy, the ‘Your feminine toolkit’ talk but the most meaningful thing I got from the sessions was the sense that there is a wonderful community ready to lend support and knowledge to one another.

Jan as Dorothy at the 203 Auction.

Jan as Dorothy at the 203 Auction.

Jan: I have found most talks to be informative and the demonstrations to be helpful. Last year, I was very impressed by Kristin Beck’s talk. She’s a new friend who’s getting involved. I was also very much appreciative of the spouse couples’ sessions once my spouse started attending. I asked her after her 1st Fair if she enjoyed it and she was somewhat non-committal (other spouse couples said she really had a good time) but her response when I asked if she wanted to come back was an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Jan at the banquet.

Jan at the banquet.

Question: What did you think of PTown and your accomodations?

One said “I can’t say enuff about both Ptown AND my Inn. Both were absolutely wonderfull. My inn keepers were the best, most friendly folks, I can’t say enough good things about them. It was absolutely a wonderful, beautiful week!

The comments from the spouse couple were “Absolutely fabulous, it was the nicest inn I have ever been to and the town went out of its way to be very, very welcoming” and “Ptown was great, good food, comfortable rooms, but I could see the town spending a little more time and money on sidewalks and streets and signing.” (Comment: They have fixed the cobblestone main street in the last 2 years.)

Jan: I initially stayed at a local guest house and the owners of the guest house couldn’t have been nicer. It was close to all the activities and had morning breakfast with fresh hot muffins; they always took the time to talk. We got on famously with everyone. I attribute a lot of positive vibes from their warm and caring spirit. We each had a room which was quaint and charming and in my case, it was a ‘closet’ but that’s what I paid for. I have stayed other places during Fair week as well but always remember to go back and check in on the owners during Fair week. All the places in PTown are open to Fair attendees (gee, I guess we bring $ don’t we). The restaurants and shops were very accommodating.

People return again and again because it’s so special. It’s a gift to find a place you can just be yourself and meet new and old friends. When I was asked if I’d attend after my 1st Fair, my comment was ‘Yes, but of course.’

As they say.. “Come join us in Provincetown, October 19 through October 26, 2014.

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Category: Product Review, Transgender Community News, Transgender Opinion

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About the Author ()

Jan is actively involved in the transgender community in NYS and Florida where she snowbirds. Jan co-founded her local TG support group, Mid-Hudson Valley Transgender Association (MHVTA) in 2000 and gets out in her various communities (including retail therapy, dining out, and visiting places of interest). She has presented at various TG events including Fantasia Fair, IFGE, Southern Comfort, Be-All, First Event, Liberty and Empire) and was part of the Fantasia Fair organizing committee for several years focusing on programming and advertising.

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