Yes, the blog is called ‘CON’undrum’s Rhapsody, but it isn’t CONvergence
For those who know me well, they would expect me to write about CONvergence. I, instead, wanted to write more generally about conventions. More specifically, I want to write about fan-run conventions. Geeks that live here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities) area have a number of conventions to go to without having to leave the metropolitan area. They range from Science Fiction/Fantasy, Anime, Gaming, Horror, Culture, to Relax-A-Cons.
Blood, Sweat and Tears
All the conventions that I name in this post are staffed by volunteers. No one is paid to spend anywhere an average of 12 to 18 months organizing a weekend convention. Some conventions even have their staff pay for their membership/ticket and hotel rooms. What is even crazier, is that some of the staff crossover into other conventions. These people like to refer to their time spent as a hobby. I have been one of those folks, and I would not trade my experiences for anything.
Here is a run down of some of the local conventions by genre.
CONvergence Held each year on or around the Fourth of July weekend in Bloomington, Mn at the DoubleTree Hotel. 2012’s convention had an attendance of over 5,600 spanning four days. Memberships are purchased and give access to panels, demonstrations, movies, anime, coffee shop, ConSuite (food stuffs), dances, performances, parties, and more.
Diversicon A convention built on diversity in culture, fan groups, and media. Diversicon is held the first weekend in August at the Best Western at Bandana Square. The convention is known for its unfettered approach to guests as they come from all walks of life.
MarsCon A yearly three-day convention in March last held at the Crowne Plaza in Bloomington, Mn in 2013. They have just announce their move to the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. A smaller convention with loads of fun. The venue lets attendees have more access to the Guests of Honor who come from more of a media background.
MiniCon Currently held on Easter weekend, MiniCon can boast that it is the longest running Science Fiction convention in Minnesota. The first year it was held? 1968! It also sets up at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Mn. MiniCon is considered by some to be the progenitor for other conventions here in the metro area. It focused on all areas of Science Fiction for many years, then narrowed its focus to authors and more literary themes. The last convention had many attractions to appeal to a wide interest with movies, music, and gaming.
Anime Detour I am not going to get into to it here because the “A is for” post was all about this convention.
Anime Fusion Started in part by some Anime Detour folks and others to have a fall convention that features old and new school Anime. They had their first convention in October of 2012 and had over 900 people in attendance. The convention returns this year at the Ramada Mall of America October 18th-20th.
Con of the North One of the longest running fan-run gaming conventions in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Gaming activities include: role playing, collectible card games, war games, board games, miniature games, computer games, and many more games. This is a low key type of convention with some light programming with some costume events and auctions. Con of the North will return February 14th-16th, 2014 at the Holiday In St Paul East.
Arcana A theme continues here as Arcana is Minnesota’s longest running Horror convention. While this is year 42(!) for the convention, it has been held at the Best Western at Bandana Square for 21 years. Aimed at a mellow crowd, it is a convention geared to the “dark fantastic” of H. P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and others.
First, I want to define what I mean by a Culture convention. To me, it is a convention that focuses on aspects within a culture. Now, if that makes sense, let’s continue!
BritCon A brand new convention that will be held May 24th-26th (Memorial Day weekend) at the DoubleTree Park Place in St. Louis Park (yes, the metro area does have more than one DoubleTree). It “is the only three day event of its kind dedicated to celebrate BRITISH Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Folklore in Movies, Media & Literature,” as it is posted on their website. It looks to be brilliant!
Furry Migration This is another new convention that is currently organizing. They have a hotel contract to have a convention September 12th-14th, 2014 at the Ramada Mall of America. Yes, this is way out, but this is what it takes to get it done right. The convention focuses on not only graphic artists and fursuiters, but also authors and publishers with programming including Furry themed videos, games, and lifestyles. I am looking forward to seeing how this organization develops.
Earlier, I mentioned that some people staff multiple conventions. This category of convention is for those amazing souls who put on the previously listed conventions and never get any downtime.
OmegaCon Held in Siren, Wi, this convention does not hold to being in the metro area. However, with the large amount Twin City folk that go, I think that Siren is annexed temporarily to the metro for that weekend. Speaking of weekends, OmegaCon is generally the first weekend of November, but with its popularity, a Spring weekend has been added (April 26th-28th, 2013). It is a chance to relax with old and new friends over food, drink, games, movies, and vintage Saturday morning cartoons.
SuperCon Known as the “Great Geek Living Room,” SuperCon originated as a geeky escape from the Twin Cities in 1992 when the Super Bowl came to town. The weekend remains the same over its 20 year history while the host city has changed. Currently, folks head out to Hastings, Mn and the Country Inn. The agenda is to keep the convention as simple as possible with a ConSuite, and light programming. The idea is to socialize, whether through games or the Stitch hunt in the pool/hot tub.
But what about…?
I will not say that this is a final list. The conventions I listed here are ones that I am familiar with and have exposure to. Also, there are several for-profit conventions here in the Twin Cites, but I am not mentioning them.