Monday, August 15, 2011

CANNONFEST: Hockey Lives in Columbus

A couple months ago, I was rather chagrined to pass by electronic billboards around Columbus discussing, what else... the Columbus Dispatch's Buckeye football coverage.

Like any fan of any other team besides the Ohio State Buckeyes here in Columbus, I know Buckeye football trumps everything else in this town. But with the scandal, the tattoos, the forced-ouster-turned-retirement of Jim Tressel and all that... well, it gets old.

Scott Howson trades for Jeff Carter... no change on the billboard to hype the Dispatch's Blue Jackets coverage.

Howson trades for James Wisniewski's rights, then signs him... nothing.

Juice rips a pec, and Howson snags Prospal!

Same. Freaking. Billboard.

"Where do the Buckeyes go from here?"

Oh my God, what'll we do... blah, blah... yadda, yadda...
Whose butt do you have to check into the Blue Jackets' bench to get some love for the home NHL team?

And to be clear, I'm not bashing the Dispatch's coverage. Just... well, why not brag about your NHL coverage a bit?

In the Columbus sports media coverage pecking order, Buckeye football is... well, the football team. The Jackets sometimes feel like the chess club.

But you know what? If CannonFest is any indication... the CBJ are the coolest chess club ever.

CBJ Communications Director Todd Sharrock talks with bloggers about what's coming up for the Blue Jackets this year

First clue? Well, the reserved room at the Grandview B-Dubs was difficult to maneuver through even before the promoted start time of 2PM. And it was a sea of Union Blue, with a couple exceptions... apparently I must now find Mrs. Martini a Ryan Johansen Winterhawks alternate jersey, and a dress that will coordinate with a Blue Jackets sweater.

This year's crowd easily doubled, and then some. Fans, bloggers and media alike had the chance to talk pucks, enjoy wings and beer, buy raffle tickets to win cool CBJ swag via the Jacket Backers, hang out with the Arch City Army and Reclaim Our Barn, and share stories of our favorite moments of the year.

Speaking of moments, our resident (sort of) Keeper of Moments, Tom Larrow (a.k.a, Skraut) made the trip from Cleveland again this year to introduce not one, but two new videos to the CBJ faithful. I can't do justice with words, so I'll just link to them here:

The only thing as cool as watching his videos on big screens all over the restaurant, is seeing everyone else glued to it, hearing the cheers for big goals and occasional cringes for big hits, and hearing the murmurs of people marveling at his work.

The dude's an artist, man.

The really standout thing about CannonFest is that it was born and has grown via social media. As such, for a guy like me who blogs and uses social media, it has been an awesome way to meet, in-person, people whom I only knew from our dozens of nights "together" tweeting during hockey games. I personally enjoyed hanging out with the other bloggers, meeting a couple I'd never met before, and being able to meet some of the local sports media, like Steph Greegor from The Other Paper, and catching up with fellow Ohio Bobcat Lori Schmidt from 97.1 The Fan.

And two TV news stations made it, too! Not a lick of paid advertising for this event, though there were some on-air mentions beforehand and obviously some coverage afterwards. See? Social media for the win!

Speaking of "for the win," those raffles raised almost $1,000 to go to Hockey Beats Down, and their fundraising efforts to fight cancer. If you didn't make it to CannonFest (or if you did), they're doing a fundraising hockey tournament August 25-28 at Chiller Easton.

(Pssst... they're looking for volunteers to help too, so click on the link above to find out more.)
Honestly, the only thing I'd do to change it would be that we need to do this a hell of a lot more often.

So, that's another CannonFest in the books. Huge thanks to Greg May (Full Mental Jacket) for hosting, Tom Fellrath (Dark Blue Jacket) and Matt Wagner (The Cannon) for putting it together, and Rick Gethin for emceeing and hosting the Pre-CannonFest celebration. Most of all, thanks to everyone who was there in body and spirit to support this event and the team.

On that topic, I should also point out that my perspective on this event is only one of the many from bloggers and "old school" media who were here, so I'd invite you to check out what some of the other members of the CBJ "family" (thanks, Steph) had to say about it (and I hope I have them all here so far, and please yell at me if I missed anyone):

Alison at Heart of a Jacket: "Did You Ever Believe? Well I Sure Do!"
Jeff Little at Ten Minute Misconduct: "CannonFest 2011 - It's All About The Passion"
Light The Lamp: "Vids Of The Day - Digital Dynamo"
Tom at Dark Blue Jacket: "CannonFest 2011 - Coming Of Age"
Matt at The Cannon: "CannonFest 2011 - Speechless"
Steph at Jacket Racket for The Other Paper: "A Call To Arms"
Lori at Fear The Hat: "Fired Up At CannonFest"
Stacy at Fire That Cannon: "Boom!"
DerDrache: "Part Of Something Special"
Andy at CBJ Blog: "A Blue Jackets Call To Arms"

In closing... if the Blue Jackets are Columbus' chess club, fine.

Keep the Buckeyes. This is our Chess Club. And I wouldn't have it any other way.


And Go Jackets!

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