Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be sharing with you my (very long) recap of the Nancy Drew Haunted Savannah Convention of 2019! For those of you who may not know, I am a huge Nancy Drew fan. (You can find out a bit more about my love of Nancy Drew on my ‘About Me’ section of my blog.) When I found out that this convention was happening so close to where I live, I knew I had to go. I used graduation money to buy my tickets and had a very fun, long and exhausting week but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Below is my recap of the week. It is long and has lots of pictures, so pull up a chair and get comfy! Also, at the end, there will be a giveaway for some awesome extra goodies, so Stay Tuned for that!
Prepping for the convention:
About a week before the convention, things started shifting into high gear. My boss at the bookstore I work at who was also helping host some events for the convention, Betsy, had the idea to make some new collectors’ checklists for Nancy Drew books since bigger collectors would be coming into town; So instead of having the checklist for the physical books, now there are four more check lists (for Dust Jackets copies, Picture cover copies, book club editions 1 & 2, and book club editions 3 & 4.) (If you’re interested in getting your hands on one or more of these checklists, let me know!)
For those of you who don’t know, Nancy drew books 1-32 have original text and revised text, and sometimes up to three different cover designs! In the late 1950’s, the books started getting revised so they were less racist, had a more consistent plot, and fewer pages (I’m actually going to be writing a separate series of posts on this, so be on the look out!). Books that have original text will have 25 chapters, while revised books and books that got published after number 32 will have 20 chapters. Books that got revised also got cover updates, mostly. There are some that just kept what they had because they looked fine how they were. And we’re just talking about the yellow spine books. The blue/tweed books with dust jackets had even earlier cover designs!
After folding 1600 collectors checklist pamphlets for the impending crowd of Nancy Drew fans, we started getting The Paintings in. “The Paintings” are the original paintings that were photographed for the book cover. The artist would paint the cover you see on the book, they got their picture taken and then printed on the book with text overlay, and then the artist did whatever they wanted with the painting! Some major collectors of Nancy Drew were sending or bringing the paintings they owned to be hung on the wall so everyone who attended would have the chance to enjoy them. We had 11 different covers out, plus one Hardy Boys cover and a rendition of The Hidden Staircase I commissioned my sister Elizabeth to paint! The walls got spackled and repainted to look their best, the mantel got wiped down and dusted, and the paintings went up. It was truly amazing to be standing in the same room as so many original paintings from some of my favorite books.
(note- some of my pictures are Not Great. I had limited space to work with, so some of these are shot with weird angles)
Paintings we had:
Nancy Drew Ghost Stories #1, artist Romas Kukalis (third cover art)
Nancy Drew Ghost stories #2, artist Hector Garrido
Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice, artist Hector Garrido
Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel, artist Ruth Sanderson
Nancy Drew: The Password to Larkspur Lane, artist Rudy Nappi
Nancy Drew: The Triple Hoax, artist Ruth Sanderson
Nancy Drew: The Elusive Heiress, artist Ruth Sanderson
Nancy Drew: Mystery of The Tolling Bell, artist Rudy Nappi
Nancy Drew: Mystery of The Hollow Oak, artist Rudy Nappi
Nancy Drew: Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, artist Russell Tandy
Nancy Drew: The Secret in The Old Attic, artist Russell Tandy
The Hidden Staircase rendition by my sister, Elizabeth P (@ekp.paints on IG!):
The Hardy Boys: What Happened at Midnight, artist Rudy Nappi
In the middle of all of that, after I would get home from work, my sisters and I were hard at work painting 110 rocks with the Nancy Drew silhouette on them, a tiny pumpkin at her feet, and the phrase “Nancy Drew Rocks!” on the back. It was exhausting, caused a lot of fights, and was very back-straining, but worth it. They looked great and as we were about to find out, people adored them.
Monday- Red Gate Farm Outing:
On the Monday before the convention was supposed to start, some of the big collectors and important people started arriving.
I was working at the shop that day when they all decided to go to this real farm here in Savannah called Red Gate Farm! They all insisted (my boss included) that I join them in the group photo and the excursion since I was “A real sleuth now, one of them!”! We took two cars and stopped at all the relevant spots for group photos, such as the red gates of the farm, the ‘Haunted’ Bridge, the Crumbling Wall, and the Mirror Lake (can anyone name all of those relevant book titles?!)! We also made a detour on our way back to the shop to see an old war time ammunition building that was dubbed “The Castle.” We re-dubbed it “Moonstone Castle”. It used to be open, but it had since been closed off and boarded up because homeless people and junkies would trash the place. I’m honestly surprised it wasn’t preserved like everything else in historic Savannah is!
Wednesday- Meet and Greet:
At 6:30 pm, my sister Andrea and I headed downtown to the Hotel Indigo. We followed the signs that said: “Nancy Drew Convention this way” and found a line of people waiting outside a meeting room the hotel had.
While waiting, a woman walked up to the doors and tried to get in. Her name tag said Penny and I heard her mention that she was from Her Interactive so I did some sleuthing (AKA used Google). I remembered that the newest CEO was named Penny, and when I looked up her photo it was the same woman! I was standing right next to the CEO of Her Interactive! Unfortunately, she was let into the room before I could talk with her.
When we were all allowed into the room at 7 pm, we went to grab our name tags and goody bags. The name tags had our names (duh) and a tiny silhouette of Nancy! The goody bags were these awesome white mesh materials with sturdy waterproof canvas for handles and “Nancy Drew” embroidered on the front. Inside the bags were the exclusive Barnes & Noble Secret In The Old Attic tote bags they put out a few years ago, copies of the new Nancy Drew Files books that were bound three to a book (Vol. 1 has Nancy Drew Case Files #1, #2, and #3 while Vol. 2 has #4, #5, and #6), a bookmark with the poster for the CW’s adaptation of Nancy Drew on it, a poster for the show itself, an orange pin with a black widow spider on it but instead of the hourglass, it was a Nancy silhouette and it said Happy Halloween underneath! There was also a small tin ornament, a copy of Her Interactive’s 30th game, The Shattered Medallion, a copy of the Sleuth Zine, and a tiny postcard with the Nancy Drew Case Files new covers Vol. 1 & 2 on either side. Isn’t that an awesome goody bag?
While you were milling around and meeting people, there was a small dessert bar (and a cash bar) with delicious and fresh fruit, cookies, and cookie bars! They were all quite tasty. I finally worked up the nerve to talk to Penny Milliken, the CEO of Her Interactive! She was so sweet to talk with and super kind to us, and even took a selfie with us! By her request, I’m not going to post it, but it was definitely a one of a kind experience that I’ll never forget. (I feel super validated that one of her favorite games is The Silent Spy as well!)
Jenn Fisher, the woman who hosts and plans the conventions, had her ‘Drew-tique’ set up for you to purchase Nancy Drew themed jewelry, fabric items, coloring books and more which she also sells on her website ndsleuths.com. I bought a watch with The Secret of The Old Clock cover as the watch face, because clocks and watches, a coin purse with the first cover and the newest cover of Secret of The Old Clock on it for my friend along with a pair of silhouette earrings of Nancy. I also got a light-switch plate with the first cover for The Hidden Window Mystery because it was pretty, and only 5 bucks! (This would only be the first instance of my money management problems this weekend.)
After a while, Jenn Fisher had a presentation in which she talked about how she is donating her major Nancy Drew collection to the Toledo Ohio city library, in honor of Mildred Wirt Benson, the first ghost writer for Nancy Drew, who lived in Toledo. Everyone was flabbergasted. Thousands of Nancy Drew books will be on display in their own private room with interactive learning stations in July 2020. There will be Tandy art for Secret of Shadow Ranch that the library owns on display with all the books as well. Road trip, anyone?
The next day, towards the early afternoon, was the Bonaventure Cemetery Tour. We were supposed to play some ‘Sleuth’ Survivor beforehand, but no one thought about the fact that there would actually be funerals going on, so we had to postpone it and skip straight into the 2-hour walking tour. The tour was incredible. There was so much history! Underneath the pictures, I’ve described some of the stories we were told but it really is so much better in person.
The next day was the big scavenger hunt that Betsy put together for over 100 people; but when we got to the shop, we weren’t allowed in, and it was for the coolest reason. CBS was there filming and interviewing Jenn Fisher! They had apparently been at the event the night before at the speakeasy (I didn’t attend, because I am underage) and were going to be at the Saturday events as well. When they finally wrapped up, Betsy gathered everyone out in the parking lot and informed us that Nancy Drew had been in town, and she needed our help!
We were given sleuthing kits that included a toy compass ring, a miniature notepad, a Books on Bay pencil, the instructions with our out of bounds listed, and a copy of the silhouette so we would know what to look for. We were to explore downtown Savannah looking for Nancy Drew silhouette’s that shops had put in their windows. You gathered into teams and when you found a silhouette, you had to write down the exact store name or you wouldn’t get the points.
No one could know how many were hidden, and you had to be back at the shop by 4:30pm to hand in your list. I went with my mom and an awesome girl named Amber, who also happened to be a Savannah native! It felt like we had the home-team advantage! We went to city market at Ellis square and found a bunch, walked back to the shop and headed east on River street where not only did we find a bunch, but I did a little souvenir shopping 😉 When we reached the end of River street, we headed up on the next street, Bay street, and found a bunch. About halfway down though, we realized we needed to head back down and cross at the far east side to the other side of Bay street were there were more shops and not a bunch of parks. When we finally made it all the way down for real this time, we stopped at this deli/restaurant called The Grey Market (which my mom discovered while watching Mind of A Chef on Netflix.). After eating, we had just enough time to walk back to the shop and hand in our total before the time was up and it was dinner time! Betsy had gone out of her way to provide everyone with a hand designed bag commemorating out Nancy Drew dinner with her, and we all got some tasty sandwiches, brownie bites, and a soda with the option of a hand painted rock!
I got so many compliments on the rocks. I was so happy that people liked them after all the hard work we put into them!
While everyone ate, Betsy tallied the scavenger hunt totals and then came outside to announce the winners, with the camera crew filming. There were apparently 45 hidden Nancy’s around Savannah, and the winning team found 44 of them! Second place found 41, and my team came in third with 40! Unfortunately, there were no follow up trophies, but the 1st prize winners won a $25-dollar gift certificate to Books on Bay! I was happy with how many we found, and not too upset about losing because I live in Savannah and work at Books on Bay, so I can shop there any time I want!
After winners were announced, we quickly went over which ones we missed and then paired off to do our own thing before we walked down to the Savannah Welcome Center where we would be loading for the Ghost Trolley Tours! Mom and I were on the last scheduled tour, which was fine because I wanted to head to a store I liked and ask for a job application (and in case you’re wondering, I had an interview, so yay!)
When it was time to walk the 15 minute walk to the welcome center, we paired with a trio of sisters and one of the collectors (who kindly brought some of his original paintings to be on display at the shop). We had fun getting to know them, and even took a picture with them! After boarding the bus (which I wish I had gotten pictures of, but it was too dark) we met our tour guide and were on our way! We didn’t know it before, but this would be a walking tour as well as a trolley tour! We got to enter the Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low’s house after hours to hear spooky ghost stories and explore the house, and then we got to go to the Davenport house (the first house in Savannah to have electricity!) where, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any pictures there. It was a blast. But by the time we got home we were so exhausted we went straight to bed.
Trick or Treat Exchange:
The last day of the convention was finally upon us, and I was sad but happy. Saturday morning, I went to the Hotel Indigo by myself to participate in the Trick or Treat exchange, the raffle, and the sleuth survivor! The weeks prior to the convention, I was working non-stop on my box for the exchange. I painted it black and stenciled in some Clue-esqe footprints that travelled the box, along with some sparkly ribbon and candy corn ribbon. I even painted the infamous Nancy-ism “It’s Locked!” in a pretty font on the top, to go with I this big vintage key I got at the craft store. I cut a hole for in the top of the box so you could slide the key in horizontally, twist it vertically, and “unlock” (open) the lid! Inside was a plastic bulb ornament that I had painted the inside gold and on the outside the Her Interactive Nancy silhouette on one side, with ‘Savannah, GA 2019’ on the other. Next, I had mod-podged some wood pencils with old book pages from The Hidden Staircase. With the images from the same book, I pasted them on an old bath tile and glued some felt to the bottom to make a coaster and painted the edged with the same bronze paint I used for my footprints on the outside of the box. After that, I had some fun sized candy bars that I wrapped in a printed shrunk down version of the Nancy Drew Computer Games candy bar, Koko Kringles. I wanted to eat them so bad while making these! I put it all together and took pictures so I would remember what a great job I did. I loved this box so much and was sad to see it go; but I knew it would make someone else happy!
When I got to the hotel, everyone was stacking their bags and boxes on a table in the corner. There were so many awesome looking gifts! I did some more shopping with my scavenger hunt team mate Amber while we waited for everyone to put their raffle tickets into the bag they wanted, and then it was time to begin the drawing. The film crew was there and set up to capture some of it on tape for their program, and of course I was picked first to draw from the bag. Hilariously, the name I drew happened to belong to the woman who was announcing the winners! She swore up and down that it wasn’t rigged. The whole process of drawing names and handing things out took about 45 minutes, and then everyone took a break before we started the trick-or-treat exchange.
For the exchange, everyone number out of a bag to see in which order they would go up to choose a bag. Out of 44 people, I was 35th so I had a while to wait. This whole thing took even longer than the raffle because one person when up at a time and opened their gift in front of everybody, and then got their picture taken with their gift! When the woman (who was ironically named Nancy) opened my box, I made sure to get lots of pictures. She looked pretty pleased with it, if I do say so myself! The gift I ended up with was a tin decorated with charms and ribbons and silhouettes. Inside was a custom printed puzzle of three different Nancy Drew covers! It was about 100 pieces, and super cool! It was only when I got home that I realized one of the charms opened and there was a hidden note that read “INSERT NOTE HERE” and on the opposite side of the box was a miniature book charm (with real paper!) that had the cover to The Password to Larkspur Lane on it, which is the book where that secret code came from!
When we were all done with the exchange, we walked across the street to the park in from of Books on Bay and got ready for some Sleuth Survivor. We broke off into teams of 6, and then divided those teams into pairs of two. We all got team color bandanas that had patches on them, which read “Outwit. Outthink. Outsleuth. Nancy Drew Survivor” there was also the Nancy silhouette and skull and crossbones!
For our first challenge, the first pair of two in each team had to run around the park collecting plastic bones to build a full skeleton. When we made it back to our team, the next pair in our team had to unscramble the word that was written on a bunch of foam eyeballs! When they had the word, they told the final pair in our team and they had to run and find a small tombstone with that word written on the back of it. It sounds great in theory, but the whole thing took about 2 minutes. My team lost, but I had a lot of fun and I even got to take the fake tombstones home with me since I live here and use them as lawn decorations! Whoo!
After that ended, the group dissolved, and we were all left to our own devices. I went home so I could start the long and tedious makeup process before our grand mystery dinner that night. It was to be at The Olde Pink House in historic Downtown Savannah, and it was definitely a dress your best kind of dinner, so I wore the most vintage outfit I had, which was a shin length high waisted black and white polka dotted skirt, a long sleeve black crop top that rested perfectly at the top of my skirt, and some cute heels I had. I did my hair nice and curly, and stuck the Halloween pin I got in my goody bag in my hair! My mom and I got our picture taken before we left to commemorate the fact that we were so dressed up, and then we were off! After about 20 minutes spent trying to find parking, we finally made our way inside. The Olde Pink House is gorgeous. The stairs were treacherous in heels, though. We made our way to a table in the back and started looking over the menu, which was incredible. After all our table mates were seated and most everyone had started arriving, appetizers were brought to the tables and drinks were filled. After getting to know who we were sitting with (our scavenger hunt partner Amber, the three sisters from our ghost tour, a woman who was also on the ghost tour, Amy, sat next to me and we really hit it off. I had to get a picture with her because she was awesome, and because of her awesome Agent Carter ensemble that she sewed herself!
For dinner, I had a starter of Ceaser Salad while mom had a shrimp cocktail. I also got a Shirly Temple, because why not? For our main course, I got the pecan crusted chicken with a blackberry bourbon glaze, sweet potatoes, and greens while mom got the Filet Mingon with grilled asparagus and whipped potatoes. While everyone was eating, the fun was about to begin! The big collectors all got together, and play acted out a skit for us in which we were to decipher the number they all kept hinting at. Then, at our own tables, we had to go through the clues left for us and figure out the last three numbers we needed to go to the front of the room and unlock the box they had! It was solved pretty quickly by another table and it turned out we were trying way to hard, but we all still had lots of fun! Then, it was dessert time. I ordered the praline basket, which is an edible basket made from pralines and filled with ice cream and fresh berries, with whipped cream and more fresh berries off to the side. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long, long time. The berries were perfectly sweet, the ice cream complimented the basket, and the basket itself was divine! Mom ordered the peanut butter chocolate mousse bomb, and she said it was delicious.
While everyone sat and talked after the tables were cleared, hot chocolate was brought out and it was time for some Nancy Drew trivia! A few people had the idea of bringing a book that the convention was themed around, such as Secret in The Old Attic, and having it passed from table to table to get signed by everyone attending like a yearbook. In hindsight, I wish I had thought of that, but so many people did it, it would’ve been excessive at that point!
One of the books that got passed around was used to have passages read from, and then people would raise their hands if they new the answer. The first person with their hand in the air got a chance to answer correctly, and if you got it right, you won a prize that Betsy donated from her shop! I hadn’t read the book in years, so I didn’t anticipate knowing any of the answers but when you have to guess the character who starts talking about how glad he is that his daughter solved the mystery and that she’s safe, the answer becomes pretty obvious. I guessed her father, Carson Drew, correctly and won a 1,000-piece puzzle of childhood classics book covers! I was so happy to have won something!
Right before everyone started wrapping things up and headed back to their hotel rooms, Jenn got up and made a special announcement. She awarded Shelly Holden, the detective who rescued Betsy’s first edition/first printing copy of Secret in The Old Clock, and an award for her excellence! Then she gave Betsy an award for helping to bring the community. It was well deserved, and a very touching moment to watch.
We started saying our goodbyes to the awesome people we met over the past few days, and it was bittersweet. I had so much fun, and I couldn’t believe it was over already! When we got home, we went straight to bed and the next morning I started playing Nancy Drew: The Ghost of Thornton Hall. This whole weekend made me realize what I had been missing out on by not playing the games as often as I would’ve liked, and I also realized that it wasn’t as scary as I remembered it being! I was terrified of it for so long and then finally, I wasn’t! Don’t get me wrong, I still jumped and gasped, but I wasn’t frightened anymore, and I completed it and Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake both in two days!
- Bonaventure Grave Bells
- About Gracie’s Memorial
- Gracie Watson’s Story
- About John Walz
- Mercer & Lawton sites
- Corrine Elliot Lawton
I am so thankful for the people and fans I met over the course of the convention, and I’ll never forget it. I hope that by writing this post, it’ll ensure I never forget anything I experienced!
Want a chance to win a copy of Her Interactive’s 30th computer game, The Shattered Medallion, and a CW Nancy Drew poster? Then you’ve come to the right place! To enter, comment on this post about why you love Nancy Drew! Haven’t read Nancy Drew? No worries! Go to Her Interactive’s website and look at their game selection and tell me what game intrigues you the most, or watch the CW’s Nancy Drew show and tell me your thoughts so far! Or, you can do all three!
- 5 winners
- USA only
- Begins the day this goes up, ends in 2 weeks!
- Must be 18 or older, or have a parent’s permission to give me your mailing address.
So there you go! Good luck, and Stay Sleuthy!