For anyone who’s a fan, they know Kansas is the core of the Supernatural fandom.
The science-fiction television program is the longest running fantasy/sci-fi series on U.S. television; following the journey of Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who hunt demons across the country.
“At the conventions, you say you’re from Kansas and you’re automatically the coolest person there,” said Breanna Johnson, a Supernatural enthusiast and organizer of the show’s annual watch parties. “It’s like street cred — being from Kansas.”
A bizarre concept — using Kansas to up your cool factor — but in a world celebrating fantasy and obsessing over Supernatural fan fiction, living in the home state of the Winchester brothers is the holy grail of the comic con kingdom.
Johnson has been a fan since about season seven, or 2011 for those who aren’t followers of the show, and said it took having her own Netflix account for her to really become a part of the SPNFamily.
“I think a lot of it is the actors,” Johnson said of what drew her to the show. “And I love the show, don’t get me wrong — but the actors — with everything they do, and they’re so interactive with the fans.”
The main characters, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, are known to live tweet to their followers during new episodes, and are dedicated to giving back to different charities, Johnson said.
In 2015, Johnson created the Facebook page Kansas SPN Family, where she truly began to realize the span of Supernatural’s reach. With 530 members, her group is one of a handful across the state that gather together to geek out over new episodes, plan road trips to various SPN locations, or even attend watch parties together.
That same year, Johnson was motivated to meet more fans of the show, and was looking for a way to bring people together, so she organized the first watch party at the Cider Gallery in Lawrence, for the premiere of the 11th season. With no budget and expenses coming out of her pocket, Johnson said she is still in shock the events have gone over so well.
After learning that the SPN family wanted to host a fundraiser coinciding with their watch party, Jennifer Letner, director of the gallery, reached out and donated the space for the groups use.
“We went down there and meet her, and said ‘You realize we’re just a small group of people who are just trying to have some fun and do some good in the community, right?’ Johnson recalled of their meeting, ‘and she said, ‘no, I get it.’ And it was absolutely amazing. It was the first event we had there and it was perfect, it went off without a hitch.”
Since then, the group held one watch party at Liberty Hall, and then in 2017 was back at the Cider Gallery. About 200 people attend each premiere, Johnson said, and with admission prices, raffles and other collections, the group raises thousands of dollars each year for local charities.
“We raised more than $3,200 last year, so we raise a little bit of money, and they’re never expecting that at all,” Johnson said.
The group has donated funds to the Willow Domestic Violence Shelter in Lawrence, Operation Wildlife, and Harvesters Food Network.
One theory, Johnson surmises, for the dedicated fans in Kansas, is the number of times the Winchester brothers have visited her home state throughout the show. More than a dozen locations are cited on a fandom map, from Kansas City, Kan. to Hugoton, Kan.
Because of their ties, Johnson said fans have been trying to get producers to host a show convention in the area for several years. An online petition now has 2,800 signatures advocating for it, and she said the idea seems to becoming more and more of a reality.
“I have not met them yet, I’m actually waiting for them to come here,” Johnson said of meeting the main actors. “…Because they’re from Kansas and I’m so dedicated to the group and everything, I want my first experience of meeting them to be here in Kansas, I think that would add to it so much more.”
In October, Johnson took a poll of favorite episodes among the Supernatural fans in her Facebook group, and these were their five favorites. (In order of popularity.)
1. Season four, episode six: “Yellow Fever”
2. Season six, episode 15: “French Mistake”
3. Season three, episode 11: “Mystery Spot”
4. Season 10, episode 5: “Fan Fiction”
5. Season 11, episode 4: “Baby”