GUESTS

03-30 - Diana McCollum, Covering the Cover

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dragon*Con – One Humongous Convention!



by Stacy McKitrick

2012 - 52,000 PEOPLE
52,000 people. 
That's how many people were reported to have attended Dragon*Con (www.dragoncon.org) in 2012. And man, did it ever feel like it!

If you are a fan of Sci-Fi or Fantasy, this is your convention. There were tracks for Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Joss Whedon, Alternative History, Horror/Dark Fantasy, Gaming Programming, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature, Science, Space, and Writers (to name a few.) Held on Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, every year, this event encompasses five hotels downtown and gets bigger and bigger each year. The convention center has been added for 2013 (mostly for vendors – yeah, you can BUY things there, too!)
 

Frankly, I don't remember it being so packed in 2011 (we were told there were 40,000 people then, which is still a lot, let me tell you.) The lines were absolutely unreal (and they're everywhere for almost everything!)

MORE OF THE 52,000

But then in 2011 (and 2010), I spent most of my time in the Writers Track (but even those tracks are gaining popularity!)

So, what's in a track, you ask? Could be a celebrity panel discussing their show (either current or cancelled – Buffy the Vampire Slayer is wildly popular every year. If you don't get in line early and wait over an hour, you don't get in.) Could be a panel of writers telling you "101 Fascinating Ways to Kill a Character" or fans discussing a favorite author, e.g. Stephen King, or maybe an "authority" on paranormal activity explaining how you can detect your own ghosts.

But while the tracks are fun and interesting, the biggest thing there is the fans. These are people who spend all year coming up with a costume (or four) and making it just so they can walk around Hotlanta (including the Dragon*Con parade), sweat, and get their picture taken. These costumes are not whipped together in a weekend. Most are planned and many are convoluted! But you can see the love and dedication that went into them.


This convention is cheap when I compare it to other conventions I've attended (under $100 for the full convention if you pre-register early enough – the Saturday pass usually runs about $50), but getting a room can be difficult. Registration for the host hotels open up during the current Dragon*Con and sell out in a matter of weeks. You want to go in 2013? I say get a room at one of the overflow hotels before it's too late!

Besides all the tracks, there are celebrities galore (John Barrowman and Adam Baldwin were big last year) and popular authors (e.g. Laurell K. Hamilton, who is there almost every year, and Sherrilyn Kenyon, who made it for the first time last year.) There is a Walk of Fame for most celebrities where you can walk up to them, talk with them, and pay for their autograph if you so desire (be forewarned, if the celebrity is wildly popular, he/she may be sequestered somewhere else and charge a fortune for his/her autograph!) You think Joe Manganiello (Alcide from "True Blood") looks good on TV? Imagine seeing him up close and personal. Oh yeah! Just keep checking the website to see who's been added. It's a crazy weekend and you certainly don't want to be without your camera.

This is definitely not a writers' convention (or a romance one, either), but you can learn a lot in the Writers Track (which has been sponsored by Belle Books in the past) and maybe even meet an editor or two. And while I do spend a lot of time there, it's not the only reason I attend. I am a fan, too! I just don't dress the part.
TIRED, MUCH?

Yeah, my first time to Dragon*Con (in 2010) was scary as hell, but then again, it was my second convention ever (having gone to the Romantic Times Convention earlier that year.) I probably never would have survived without my daughter helping me (she's attended the last ten conventions.) 

But after that first trip, I was hooked.  ~Stacy

Stacy McKitrick writes Paranormal Romance.
You can find her online at http://www.stacymckitrick.com/index.php

3 comments:

Stacy McKitrick said...

Thanks for having me. Just writing this post has made me excited to go again this year!

I'm at a library function this morning, but promise to check back in the afternoon, so if anyone has any questions, ask away! I'll be back later - I promise.

Judith Ashley said...

I'm learning so much about Fan Con's this month. I've only attended writing ones like RWA's National, Emerald City, Desert Dreams, and a local Willamette Writers conference. Fan Con's look to be much more 'out there' and fun.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Judith - Fan Cons are fun. You're with a bunch of people with the same interest as you. It's amazing what kind of people you meet just standing in line.