The Weird Weekend
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The event had very humble beginnings. The first event was held in a tumbledown Parish Hall in Exeter (2). According to the CFZ, it was attended by only about a dozen people, and made a loss of £75.
The next two events were held at Exeter University in conjunction with the University Science Fiction Society, and although they were marginally more successful, they still only just about broke even, and the 2003 event - the one which, ironically, was their first success - very nearly didn't happen.
Interviewed by the Exeter Express and Echo in 2003, Jon Downes and Richard Freeman admitted that they only went ahead with the plans for the 2003 event because they were talked into it by friends, and they had already decided that the 2003 event would be the last.
However, a new venue (the 16th Century haunted pub The Cowick Barton), and a broader policy of guests was a success, and the fourth event made nearly £1,000 ensuring that the event would continue.
It was held at the Cowick Barton for three years, but eventually outgrew the venue. By 2005 it was the largest cryptozoological conference in Britain, and in 2006, when the CFZ relocated from suburban Exeter to the small village of Woolfardisworthy in North Devon, the Weird Weekend followed, and the 2006 event was a massive success.
Apart from the Fortean Times Unconvention, the Weird Weekend is now the biggest, and most important fortean event in Britain, and regularly attracts visitors - ans speakers - from all over the world. In recent years, the event has included music, theatre and art exhibitions, as well as workshops where visitors can learn cryptozoological and naturalist techniques. Since 2003, the CFZ has held an open day as part of the festivities, where people can come and see their work for themselves.
The Weird Weekend is unique because, as Jon Downes, one of the founders said in a 2006 interview:
"It is a success because it is a social event as well as a scientific one. It is also the only such event in the world where there are as many interested members of the general public, as there are hardcore cryptozoologists".
Earlier events were marked by an anarchic, alcohol-fuelled, and often surreal, approach, but after the move to North Devon, the event is now much more family oriented.
Matthew Williams, Sir Lawrence Gardner, Chris Moiser, Tim Matthews, Richard Freeman, Steve Jones, George Bishop, Jonathan Downes, Nigel Watson, and Joyce Howarth.
Larry Warren, Gail-Nina Anderson, Mike Hallowell, John Tindsley, Malcolm Robinson, Chris Moiser, Richard Freeman, George Bishop, Ian Simmons, Nigel Wright, Bob Mann,`Square the Moon`, `Jon Downes & The Amphibians from Outer Space`.
Richard Freeman, Mark North, Rachel Carthy, Nigel Wright, Paul Vella, Darren Naish, Steve Jones, Adam Davies, Tim Matthews, Chris Moiser, Col. John Blashford-Snell
Patrick Harpur, Ronan Coghlan, Richard Freeman, Gail-Nina Anderson, Merrily Harpur, Jonathan Downes, Nick Redfern, Gary Cunningham, Chris Moiser, Darren Naish, Matthew Williams, Scott Wood.
Richard Ingram, Chris Moiser, Jeremy Harte, Peter Costello, Nick Redfern, `Foolish People`, Jonathan Downes, Richard Freeman, Gareth Medway, David Farrant, Simon Sherwood, Sam Shearon, Jon Hare, Dr Gail-Nina Anderson, Steve Jones, Ronan Coghlan
Bob Morrell, Dr Lars Thomas, Matthew Williams, Richard Ingram, Lionel Beer, Andreas Trottmann, Paul Cropper, Jon Ronson, Nick Redfern, Richard Freeman, Paul Vella, Chris Moiser, Larry Warren, Jeremy Harte, Ronan Coghlan, Jonathan Downes, Oll Lewis, Jon McGowan, Ant Wallis, Anthony James
Larry Warren, Peter Robbins, Jonathan Downes, Richard Freeman, Oll Lewis, Nick Redfern, Jonathan McGowan, Matthew Williams, Mike Hallowell, Dr Charles Paxton, Gregoriy Panchenko, Adam Davies, Dr Darren Naish, Chris Moiser, Paul Vella and Ronan Coghlan.
There were exhibitions from: Mark North, Dr Iggy Tavares, and a display of pictures of monsters by the children of Woolfardisworthy.(3)
Matt Saulsbury, Geoff Ward, Richard Freeman, Jonathan Downes, Ronan Coghlan, Dr Karl Shuker, Jon McGowan, Mike Hallowell, Dr Gail-Nina Anderson, Dr Mike Dash, Tim Matthews, Richard Ingram, Chris Moiser, Oll Lewis, Michael A Woodley. There were exhibitions from Rebecca McGowan-Griffin, Metamorphosis, and Ben Leese
The 2009 event will be held on the 14-16 August, and confirmed speakers include:
Richard Freeman, Jonathan Downes, Ronan Coghlan, Dr Karl Shuker, Jon McGowan, Tim Matthews, Oll Lewis, Michael A Woodley, Paul `Mr Biffo` Rose, Neil Arnold, and more to be confirmed soon.
Exhibiters included the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena.
In March 2007, the CFZ created a new website for the Weird Weekend