Hey board gamers, the summer convention season is winding down. Hopefully, you had a chance to go to a local con or even one of the big events like Dice Tower East or Origins or even GEN CON! (Hopefully, you are reading Bradly’s excellent pictorial of everything cool at GEN CON 2022! We’ll be back tomorrow with more cool pictures!)
But, it’s never too early to start thinking about the best convention — Southern Board Game Fest! Here’s our recent interview with Sagan Ezell, frequent Gumbo contributor, about what’s coming up for Sobo!
Hey Sagan, thanks for stopping by. I hear that the Southern Board Game Fest (“SoBo”) is ready to announce next year’s convention dates. What’s the scoop?
Hey, I can always make a little time for Gumbo! SoBo will be happening on October 14 and 15 of 2023! We’re gonna be back and better than ever, so mark your calendar now!
That sounds like the same weekend as the Festival Acadiens et Creoles — for board gamers who have never been, what does having SoBo that same weekend mean for our experience?
It is that weekend! Having Festival Acadiens running concurrently with SoBo is gonna make an exciting atmosphere for our attendees. We all know that as much as we all want to sit and game all day, you have to take some time to stretch your legs a bit and get a bite to eat.
We also know that a lot of the time, when you’re at a convention the food options can be… serviceable is how I’ll describe it. By having Festival Acadiens within walking distance, our attendees can take that game break and instead of wandering towards the nearest McDonald’s, they can try the local flavors just around the corner. Just imagine it, you finish up a long game, and can immediately go hear some live music while you get a big bowl of jambalaya. A five minute walk later you’re back at the table ready to set up for a new round.
We really want SoBo to be approachable and interesting to everyone, so it’s a great boon for our out of town participants to get a taste of Louisiana festivals, and for our in town friends to engage with the food and music they recognize, and to have great gaming on the side!
SoBo grew its gamer presence this year, seems like we had gamers from all over. Any details on how many different areas were represented?
Its true that we were able to host gamers from lots of different places in 2022. Despite the fact that our pace was staggered a bit from 2020 on, that didn’t stop our awesome attendees from coming out when we were finally able to meet again.
Naturally gamers from around Louisiana were there, but we also saw attendees from Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and even Canada! That’s right, SoBo is international now! Maybe for 2023 we can find some attendees from even farther out.
What were some of the successes of SoBo 2022?
The successes are really too many to count, so instead of a comprehensive list, let me just name a few personal highlights for you. First of all, I actually got to play a few games this year! Normally, I’m running around teaching games, and doing my best to ensure any snags in the day are smoothed out, but I managed to find time to game with some really awesome people! No matter what other events and amenities a convention can offer, good gaming with good people is always the most important thing, and SoBo 2022 certainly wasn’t lacking in either.
Another thing that was really a standout this year was our Play to Win section. We gave away nearly 60 games across the two day event, many of which were donated by publishers who are friends of the fest. We want to make sure that gaming as a whole gets bigger and bigger, so giving people games to then play with their own friends at home is a joy for us!
The third big highlight for me this year was our demo area. We had nearly every single demo slot filled in, and our awesome game teachers got full marks from the participants in their respective demos. Not to mention, that space doubled as the site of our trivia tournament, which had a great turnout as well!
I could keep going on and on about out our FLGS vendors who come out, the IHeartBoardGames team who streams live from our event, and our amazing volunteer base who keep the wheels turning, but I’ve already gone on for too long. Suffice it to say I’m a fan of the festival, and I think that’s a sentiment that’s shared by our attendees.
Any sneak peeks at what we can expect for SoBo 2023?
Sneak peeks huh? Well, I can definitely say that we are always looking for ways to improve our offerings. I don’t want to make any definitive statements since October is still a long way away, but will 2023 mark the return of tournaments? It’s possible!
Also, to continue answering on a personal note, I am a big fan of tabletop RPGs, and have a few ideas in that vein that I think folks at the festival might enjoy. For now, just be assured that SoBo 2023 will have tons of games to play, giveaways, great food and culture around the festival, and great people to meet.
Tell us a little about your involvement in Southern Board Game Fest.
Hey, what can I say, I like board games and I live in Lafayette. There’s no way I wouldn’t be involved in an event like this! I first got involved with the festival when it initially launched as a fundraiser for New Hope, a great nonprofit that helps under-resourced kids in our community.
The purpose of the festival is to spread gaming to everyone, since we all believe it’s a great hobby. The financial purpose is to help fund an awesome community organization that changes the lives of kids in profound ways. Both of those goals had me sold from the beginning, and so I just help out however I can.
Most of the time attendees will see me teaching games, but as for me and the entire planning team, just know that we work on making it the best experience we possibly can long before the doors open up on Saturday, because frankly, we just want everyone to have the best time they can.
Thanks for joining us! We can’t wait for SoBo 2023!
— BJ from Board Game Gumbo