We are in very interesting, challenging, and even scary, times right now. The world is upside-down, turned around, and very much on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that many folks are facing uncertainty about very basic needs such as food, work, and housing, while others are working diligently on the front lines. Please know that we, too, are working through our own challenges and situations, but are very much thinking of all of you during these times and we have two important announcements regarding the Fetish Fair Fleamarket®.
First, out of concern and consideration for potential attendees, our vendors, and our venue, on Wednesday, April 22, the NELA Board voted to cancel the in-person Fetish Fair Fleamarket® #55 (Summer Flea). However, we are exploring options for hosting a virtual Flea event. We did not come to this decision lightly, but with ongoing uncertainty due to government and CDC recommendations around public gatherings and social distancing, combined with our desire to be fair and respectful of our venue, our vendors and presenters, and concern about the safety of our community members, we felt that this was the right decision to make at this time. We feel that switching to a virtual format for FFF 55 would provide an opportunity to support our community, vendors, and presenters while also addressing concerns. It is our hope that we will be able to provide an event – albeit virtual –for folks to look forward to in these uncertain times. If you or anyone you know has experience in hosting virtual events and would be open to sharing that with us, or are interested in helping with Virtual Flea 55 in any way, please reach out to email@example.com.
Our second announcement is in regard to our contract with the Crowne Plaza, which has been home to the Winter Flea for the past several years. The contract with the venue contained clause that allowed either party – NELA or the Crowne – to cancel the contract without cause within 30 days of the close of the previous event. Approximately three weeks after the 2020 Winter Flea, we had a meeting with Crowne management and event staff to review the event. We talked about how this year’s attendance was down, some of the reasons for it, the impact on the event – both for NELA and the hotel – as well as some changes we wanted to implement moving forward to ensure an excellent event for both of us on a variety of levels. Some of these changes were going to be incorporated into the contract and we received the revised contract six days after the meeting with the Crowne. While we were still reviewing the revised contract with our attorney, less than 24 hours later and on the last day of that 30-day window, we received an email from the Crowne terminating our contract.
The Crowne Plaza-Warwick and her sister property, the Holiday Inn Express, were both independently owned and operated by a single individual. Last year, when the owner sadly passed away, a Board of Directors was appointed in charge of the properties. We were told that the new Board simply wished to move in a different direction with their business. Our meeting with the venue just the week prior had been positive and did not give us any impression that there would be any change; the venue had always expressed their love of us and our event. Receiving the cancellation email just 24-hours after receiving the revised contract completely blindsided us. We have reached out to the venue several times to have further conversation around their decision, but these events took place just as the COVID-19 situation was beginning to peak and folks were being asked to work from home. As such, we have not been able to have that conversation with them to date.
The result remains the same – we are again looking for a home for the Winter Flea. We’ve already begun looking at other properties with which we’re familiar and believe would be interested in hosting our event. This process has, thus far, included hotels that have served as the previous and current home of the Summer Flea, as well as engaging networking resources both within and outside of the kink community. If you’re interested in assisting with the search or have suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a community, we have a history of facing adversity. This is not new to us. That is why NELA’s mission to create a safer space in the world for the BDSM/kink/leather/fetish community through education, advocacy, and charitable giving is an ongoing one. Yes, running into these obstacles and setbacks can be frustrating and even disheartening; but instead, let’s choose to look at this as an opportunity to expand our network and educate even more folks.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And don’t forget to keep calm and kink on.
Sleepy and the NELA Board of Directors