C is not for CONvergence

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.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

CVGBritCONvergence 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.

Snarky275x277MarsCon 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

adlogoAnime Detour I am not going to get into to it here because the “A is for” post was all about this convention.

animefusion_logoAnime 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.

Gaming

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.

Horror

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.

Culture

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_logoBritCon 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!

FMlogoFurry 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.

Relax-A-Con

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.

omegamanOmegaCon 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.

A is for Anime Detour

adlogo

Since is it April, I thought a good start to the A to Z challenge would be Anime Detour (AD). It is the little Anime convention that could. In 2004, attendance came in at just over 1,200 people at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott. This was after two years of planning by the parent organization, Anime Twin Cities. The general attendance expectation of the staff was to see 400-600 attendees for their first year, ha! The following years have had  a cap on the attendance to help keep the growth in check, so the convention can continue to meet high expectations and be one of the premiere anime conventions in the Midwest.

 

They just keep coming back

Anime Detour has two Guests of Honor who return each and every since the beginning.

Carrie Savage‘s body of work spans almost two decades and covers a wide swath of TV series, video games, and movies. She not only is a voice actor, but has the talents of directing and writing in her arsenal.

Image from an interview at http://www.rightstuf.com/rssite/animeToday/individual/?ForumThreadName=FT0000000566&ReturnTo=Summaries

Kyle Herbert has an even longer anime resume as a voice actor starting in 1986 with Dragonball Z. Kyle started as a radio DJ in high school working his way up to Radio Disney, but he wanted more opportunities. So, he picked up and left Dallas for Los Angeles.

He won an SPJA award at Anime Expo in 2009 for the best English Voice Actor with his role as Kamina in Gurren Lagann. Not to be tied to just voice acting in anime, movies, and video games, Kyle has a weekly podcast. The BigBaldBroadcast airs weekly where Kyle is the co-founder and host with Otherworld Steve. (Image from an interview at http://www.rightstuf.com.)

Chris and Tadao

Chris and Tadao

Other guests who have become mainstays at Anime Detour are: Chris & Greg Ayres, Clarine Harp, Robert & Shannon Townsend (Studio O.N.Y.), Kris “Phade” McCormic, and Tadao Tomomatsu. The variety of guests cover more than just voice acting. Chris Ayres brings mock combat to cosplay around the US., while his brother, Greg, brings his mad DJ skills to dances everywhere. Clarine produces DVDs, Robert & Shannon illustrates comics, Kris collects A.M.V.s, and Tadao, is well Tadao.

 

So, this convention, it happens this month?

Why yes, in fact it does. It starts Friday, April 19th and goes until Sunday, April 21st. Anime Detour has the usual anime convention fare – video rooms, cosplay, artist alley, panels, dances, dealer’s room,and photoshoots.

redcrossdetourOne thing that sets AD apart from some of the other anime conventions out there is the sense of community. Just weeks before the 2011 Anime Detour, Japan was ravaged by one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history.  In three days, a convention with the average age of just over 18 years old raised $36,243.84 between charity auctions and collection boxes placed around the convention. Their reason for doing this? If it wasn’t for Japan, there would not be a convention called Anime Detour.

I will be there this year serving rice overnight. I hope to see you there, it is a fun time. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there is an attendance cap. If you are not already registered, find someone who cannot go and switch the membership to yourself. Otherwise, make sure you register early for next year.