All-Star Weekend is fast approaching, and while the Skills Competition and 3-on-3 game are getting most of the attention, the Music City Center will be packed with the other side of the event, the 2016 NHL Fan Fair.
There are about a thousand different things to do, and glancing at the list of all the attractions is enough to make your head spin. We spent a good chunk of time at last year's Fan Fair and can tell you that over half of what's offered is not what it's cracked up to be. Press releases will make some things sound huge, but ultimately they'll be nothing more than a person sitting behind a draped table.
However, there are still plenty of things worth your time, and you should make a point to peruse through it at some point. Looking to hit the highlights and not get bogged down with everything else? We've got you covered. Here's what you should expect, and the things you should make a point of seeing.
|Thursday, Jan 28||4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.|
|Friday, Jan 29||4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m,|
|Saturday, Jan 30||10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.|
|Sunday, Jan 31||10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.|
Single Day: $20 for adults, $15 for children (age 3-12), seniors (65 and over) or college/military with valid ID. Children 2 and under are free.
Four Day Mobile Pass: $60.
The Stanley Cup
It sits perched on a gigantic stage looming 10 feet over the convention center floor. It looks miniature with how much nothingness they surround it with. The gigantic plastic set piece standing directly behind it doesn't hurt either.
The biggest reason to visit the Fan Fair is to get your picture taken with the Stanley Cup. You will wait for an hour and a half or more to stand next to it for all of 45 seconds, but if you've never before seen it in person, it'll be worth it. Plan on getting there as early as possible to cut down on that wait, even though they do a good job of keeping people from dawdling forever on the stage.
Picking it up is strictly prohibited, but anything else is fair game. Kiss the damn thing if you want, as long as you're comfortable doing it after a bunch of strangers have as well. There isn't a whole lot of time to soak it in, but that's what the pictures are for.
Last year the line in took you through humongous pictures of players new and old lifting the Cup, and as you got closer a large display took you through its history. From all the teams to have ever won it, to how its changed throughout the years, it's a nice build up to turning a corner and seeing it illuminated in front of you.
If you're looking forward to this, we can't stress enough to carve out a huge chunk of your day to do so. This alone is worth the $20 admission.
See? We didn't touch it :) pic.twitter.com/wKM9yiUrLc— On The Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck) January 25, 2015
The Trophy Showcase
Not quite as awe inspiring at the Cup, but each trophy is nestled in a showcase wall that can be viewed from the front and the back. These ones you can take your time with and soak in all the intricacies and read all the names of previous winners.
As you start wandering around, these will become more background than main focus, it's worth spending a few minutes with them.
Most of these looked really cool, but holy crap were the lines ridiculous.
Standing in line for the Cup is one thing. How many chances do you have to rub your face against the most iconic piece of sports hardware in the world? Few enough that standing around for 90 minutes to do so seems like a small price to pay.
Doing so to shoot pucks at laundry appliances or dangle around mannequins is a bit much. That's not to say these are a complete waste of time, or you should deny your kids the pleasure of seeing how hard they can shoot a puck. Just be aware some of these stations got 40 or 50 people deep. If you don't mind waiting, almost every station looks like a blast and I wish we had more time from covering the weekend to try them out.
We stuck with Plinko, however, and it worked out for all parties involved.
THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.
My weekend goal was to get a picture with every NHL mascot, which originally seemed like a fool's errand. But as soon as we walked in there were no less than 10 of them walking around in our direct vicinity, which isn't mentioning the others wandering around on the other side of the room.
If you're the type of person who doesn't appreciate adults in fuzzy costumes making idiots of themselves, make sure to check the schedule. When the Mascot Challenges are happening, there's a sensory overload that can be heard through out the entire grounds.
Note: If you are really hungover, you can still feel Fin the whale's teeth hours after he bites you.
If you're thinking of picking up any type of ASG merchandise, whether it's pucks, sticks, t-shirts, hats, jerseys, novelties or anything in between, don't wait. The Fan Fair had its own gift shop corner, and the dramatic depletion in stock from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning was surprising.
They'll likely also be tons of stuff in the Preds' team stores, as well as a kiosk or two around the concourse. Same idea. Columbus ran out of jerseys before the doors opened for the game. If those hideous motocross eyesores can fly off the shelves there, there's no telling what the blander (but more appealing) threads will do here.
If you see something you like, take it home immediately.
We didn't dabble much with the Q&As or the autograph tables, but there isn't much to say about them to begin with. If a current or former player you really like is doing something, you'll likely make time for it however you can.
SiriusXM is set to broadcast from the fair again, and that's actually a great way to pass the time if your kids or family are somewhere in line. They'll post a schedule of different players that will circle through and sit down for a 10 or 15 minute interview right in front of you.
Finally, there are several booths and tables with tons of collectors items for sale and auction. Everything from game worn jerseys, lineup cards, and signed memorabilia to locker room name plates, photographs and commemorative pins. If you're looking for something awesome to add to your home office or basement, chances are you'll come away with something.
In all, take a few hours out of your weekend to wander around the Fan Fair. When's the next time you can say you got a picture with the Stanley Cup AND a Velveeta cheese fountain? Plus, there are no doubt going to be changes and upgrades from last year. Haven fun and enjoy!
All photos via Getty Images.
Event description and full list of attractions via the NHL:
The National Hockey League will transform the Music City Center into 250,000 square feet of interactive hockey fun for the 2016 NHL Fan Fair™ presented by Bridgestone, January 28-31, 2016. As the official fan festival of the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend, NHL Fan Fair™ will offer hockey fans of all ages four days of family friendly interactive games and attractions, special appearances, trophy and memorabilia displays, live music, live TV and radio broadcasts and dozens of other dynamic activities. All attractions will be included with the price of admission
2016 NHL Fan Fair™ presented by Bridgestone Attractions
· Test accuracy and speed on a live goalie in the Bridgestone NHL® Slap Shot Challenge.
· Create a celebratory, Honda NHL® All-Star-themed virtual reality video clip to share with friends and family.
· Take a photo with the Stanley Cup® and learn the history of the NHL's prestigious trophies at the NHL Trophy Showcase presented by Discover. Discover Cardmembers will receive 10% off purchases of NHL All-Star merchandise at retail locations inside NHL Fan Fair and Bridgestone Arena when paying with a Discover card.
· The Discover Theater will host Q&A sessions with current and former NHL players and hockey insiders.
· Test your hockey skills at 102.5 The Game booth for prizes, brought to you by the Predators’ flagship station.
· What’s the Buzz? It’s you and your mad skills at Xbox NHL® 16. Nashville’s Rock Station 102.9 The Buzz provides the setting; you provide the know-how!
· On Saturday and Sunday, AMP Energy will provide a unique tasting experience for NHL fans. Try and compare all six AMP Energy flavors for the chance to win exciting prizes.
· The Autograph Stage will feature sessions with NHL players, past and present.
· Take the Coors Light TEAM Coalition pledge to never drive drunk and always have a designated driver.
· Test CCM RIBCOR, CCM Tacks and CCM RBZ Superfast sticks and dress up as your favorite NHL player with Reebok / CCM gear.
· EA Sports will showcase their latest version of their award winning video game, NHL 16 at the NHL Arcade. All fans in attendance can play NHL 16 on high definition consoles.
· Visit the Fanatics Authentic store for signed memorabilia and unique collectibles available for sale.
· Watch fun street hockey action, plus the NHL Mascot Showdown™, inside the EA Sports NHL ®16 Rink.
· Shop in the NHL All-Star Flagship Store for officially-licensed NHL merchandise.
· Take a commemorative photo on a Zamboni® machine and play GEICO's NHL® All-Star Game Trivia Challenge for an opportunity to win your favorite team’s gear.
· Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame’s "Hockey in the State of Tennessee" exhibit.
· Enjoy live musical performances on the Honda Stage. Visit NHL.com/FanFair for the schedule.
· Stop by the Imports Dragon booth to play their new figurine board game or to purchase a limited-edition Shea Weber collectible figurine.
· Hone your hockey training skills with the JELL-O Total Game Changer.
· Explore NHL All-Star Game history in the Hall of All-Stars presented by MetLife.
· McDonald’s Kids Zone will have games and activities designed for hockey’s youngest fans.
· Take a photo with Mr. Peanut and receive some free samples.
· The Mtn Dew booth will offer ice cold samples and custom photo cards
· Be among the first to preview the NHL’s newest digital products, NHL.TV and the Official NHL Mobile™ Application, set for launch on Feb. 1. Then face-off with your friends in a game of air hockey.
· Bid on NHL memorabilia and one-of-a-kind items, courtesy of NHL Auctions™.
· Visit the NHL Fan Fair™ Beer Garden and relax in the Logo Brand’s tailgate zone while enjoying an ice cold Coors Light.
· Visit the NHL Mascot Clubhouse for mascot photos, autographs and "Story Time with Holly" featuring Holly Preston, creator and author of Always Books.
· Apply your hockey STEM knowledge at the NHL & NHLPA Future Goals™ booth.
· NHL NETWORK™ and XFINITY are teaming up giving fans an opportunity to get their photo taken at the NHL Network set, meet NHL Network talent, and receive free premium items.
· Come down to the NHL Ultimate Fan Cave to try your hand at billiards, foosball or air hockey
· Get a free photo with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, the 27 foot-long hot dog on wheels.
· Welcome to SMASHville™! Jump into the Predators’ photo booth or onto the "Cat Slide" in Preds Land! Face Painters will be on site to get you All-Star ready. Plus, meet your favorite Predators personalities.
· Visit Reebok’s booth for an incredible hockey virtual reality experience.
· Check out the Room of Your Dreams, presented by Northwest, for the ultimate fan bedroom with the latest in fan home gear.
· For an innovative, virtual reality experience, visit Samsung’s GearVR booth (@SamsungCanada) #GearVR.
· SAP’s NHL® Stats Zone will showcase the new NHL.com/Stats features available to fans.
· SiriusXM NHL Network Radio™ will broadcast live from NHL Fan Fair.
· Step inside The Tennessean photo booth to capture your NHL All-Star experience and find your photos at Tennessean.com. Enter a drawing for a chance to win a $500 gift card.
· Take a photo of the first-ever melty, cascading fountain of creamy VELVEETA cheese. Then take the Shoot for Liquid Gold hockey skills challenge for a chance to win $100,000 and All-Star tickets.
· Meet and take a photo with WSMV-TV Channel 4’s Snowbird, Middle Tennessee’s favorite "Bird with the School Closing Word."
· Visit the York® bubble hockey arena to play on custom Super Chexx® tables and a chance to win a hand-painted goalie mask.
· At the Upper Deck Trading Card and Memorabilia Zone, make a personalized hockey card, spin the prize wheel, play Pluck-O, and check out the latest and greatest in hockey cards and memorabilia.
· Commemorate the first NHL All-Star in Nashville and collect 20 exclusive pin designs at the WinCraft Pin Trading zone.