Ponyville Ciderfest 2017: Three days of MLP panels, cosplay and fun

The fourth annual Ponyville Ciderfest brought My Little Pony fans of all stripes together for three days of celebration, panels, and fun. I hung out with the Bronies, Pegasisters, and younger fans for a few days in Milwaukee. Check out some of my favorite highlights:

1. Two Fans Got Engaged!

Alto Scribe and Pastel Bubblegum got engaged!

The opening ceremonies were billed as a must see due to “a few surprises you won’t want to miss.” Seeing Con Chair Charlie Worthley in Lederhosen was spectacular, but OC (Original Character) creators Alto Scribe and Pastel Bubblegum stole the show. After Charlie introduced them, Alto took the mic, thanked Pastel for all she’s done for him, then dropped to one knee and proposed marriage. She said yes! The room erupted in deafening applause. Pastel then took the mic and asked everyone to not post their engagement on social media – she wanted to call her parents first. I was able to catch them for a quick photo.

2. Fictional Fighting And Real Philosophizing At “Who Would Win?”

The “Who Would Win?” panel.

This panel of Brony celebs took fictional fight matches from the audience and Twitter, then declared who would win. Sometimes, the audience got a vote. Some of the matches offered up:

Freddy Kruger vs. Pennywise?

T-Rex vs. Truckosaurus?

Three Modern Humans vs. Three My Little Ponies?

Then there were philosophical questions to ponder: Could the Main 6 make Donald Trump humble? Depends on how much time they had. Could they do it in a week? Who is more miserable – Rick Sanchez (of “Rick and Morty”) or Bojack Horseman? It depends on which season (for each) you’re talking about. The most dispiriting match-up? Pancakes vs. Waffles. Despite my protestations, pancakes were declared the winner.

3.The Generosity Of MLP Fans

ponyville ciderfest - generations against bullying
The 2017 Ciderfest partnered with Generations Against Bullying.

Through its fundraising activities, including The Apple Bake-off, Friendship Auction, and Charity Auction, Ciderfest raised over $20,000 for its partner charity, Generations Against Bullying. One notable piece of Ciderfest fun went up for auction: The actual wheel from “My Little Wheel of Fortune,” which was signed by con guests and Guests of Honor, went home with a high bidder for $700.

4. My Little Wheel of Fortune

Bronies compete for prizes at My Little Wheel of Fortune.

The day before the charity auction, game host The Blackman Brony (Ponyville’s answer to Pat Sajak) treated us to his popular Pony-themed version of Wheel of Fortune. Puzzle winners went home with badges for next year’s Ciderfest, and one lucky contestant took home a jar of Moonshine. On Sunday, our generous host donated the Wheel to Ciderfest’s auction. (See #3 above.)

5.The Grand Galloping Gala

Cosplay on display at the Grand Galloping Gala.

The Friday night formal dance featured cosplayers dressed in their pony formals, a Waltz lesson, and music from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 to the Rainbow Factory Waltz. Pony-themed cocktails, such as the Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash, were available for the over-21 set. The gorgeous cosplay on display included “Mr. and Mrs. Fluttershy” and Rainbow Dash in her formal wear.

6. Fire Team Harmony

Fire Team Harmony on guard at Ciderfest.

What began as a joke about a “Twilight Spartan” has evolved into a cosplay mashup/comedic group. The group, whose costumes combine MLP with Halo, now boasts 30 members, and is always a delight to see running around among the crowd. Whether they’re “guarding” the cosplay contest or riffing on other Brony celebs, the audience was always laughing along with them.

7. An Original, Never-To-Be-Seen Script Read By The Guests Of Honor

It’s a good thing Ciderfest offered a Guest of Honor panel each day – demand was high. I snagged a seat on Saturday, alongside all the other Ponies packed in muzzle-to-tail. We were treated to an original, never-to-be-seen script written by Tabitha St. Germain, the voice of Rarity. Voice actors Nicole Oliver, Britt McKillip, and Andrew Francis joined St. Germain in the reading of her secret script. Any mention of “A letter from Princess Celestia!” got a huge laugh.

8. The Handiwork Of Nazegoreng Crafts


Custom plushies crafted by Nazegoreng Crafts.
Naz speaking with her fans.

Traveling farther than any other guest, Nazegoreng Crafts of Australia (she goes by “Naz”) generously shared her plush making tips with the audience, and donated two plushies to the charity auction. Fun fact: she has a life-sized Princess Celestia in her home. The materials alone cost around $1,000. A fan favorite, she was mobbed with questions for nearly an hour after her first panel.

9. The Ciderfest Cosplay Contest

The Princess Court at the Cosplay Contest.

I love cosplay, and the contestants and judges did not disappoint. Kirin-Chan Cosplay and Raevynn Madd Costumes (best friends in real life and cosplaying as Thorax and Spike, best friends in MLP) served as judges while Savvyshy emceed the proceedings. Best in show went to the Royal Court Princesses; Best Workmanship went to Chrysalis. Savvyshy, costumed as Pinkie Pie, did not once break character. She kept the party going with her fun energy.

10. Things I Learned About The Men Of “Bronies React”

Fire Team Harmony members at the Bronies React panel.

YouTuber Saberspark thinks cutie marks are limiting. Bronies React founder AC Racebest hates pickles, and his roommate woke him pre-con with a YouTube video of someone eating pickles. Fire Team Harmony would let Black Gryphon join them only “if he could keep the costume on for five minutes.” Bonus sighting: During the Q+A, a Ciderfest Staffer offered AC Racebest a bag of Cheese Curds. “We are in Wisconsin,” he said as he tried some.

Ponyville Ciderfest 2017 has ended, but check out their site for more information on Ciderfest 2018.

About Mare Swallow

Mare Swallow
Mare Swallow is the Founder of the Chicago Writers Conference and author of 21 Ways to Engage Your Audience. She is a professional speaker, and writes non-fiction. She is working on an in-depth project about subcultures. On most nights you can find her sharing her stories at one of Chicago's many Lit events. She has been named to New City’s (Chicago) Lit 50 list twice. She lives in Chicago and is a complete gin snob.