Whenever someone mentions the word “convention,” the mind is immediately drawn to large affairs like Comic Con (all of them), Dragon Con, and similar events. They are stereotypically huge deals with scores of guests and thousands of attendees. You expect crowded halls and long lines to see the panels of your choice.
Did you know that there are smaller conventions in home towns across the country (and the world, I’m assuming)?
I know, right? You don’t have to fly out to San Diego, Atlanta, or New York to have a convention experience. As I write this, I’m at a convention in my home town of Gaithersburg, MD. It’s called CapClave and it’s hosted by The Washington Science Fiction Association. This year’s guest of honor was George R. R. Martin. Yeah. The devious mind behind A Song of Ice and Fire, the books that inspired HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” was here. I actually got to sit down and listen to him talk in a room that still had some empty seats. I remember hearing about the con, but I’d never actually looked into where and when it was.
Thanks to the work I do for this website, I found out that it was happening about 15 minutes from my house. I no longer had an excuse to skip it when it’s just right there. Once again, I found myself reminded of my love for smaller conventions. What they lack in size is more than made up with passion for the material. They feel more like a community driven affair in a way that many larger conventions don’t.
Due to their size, smaller conventions tend to cater to a specific niche. I attend a convention devoted to live-action role-playing every year, for example. CapClave has a more literary bent and FaerieCon (which has events on both the East and West Coasts) is fairly self-explanatory. Yes, it’s dedicated to all things fae. It’s a lot of fun and has a couple of great parties. Anyway, that said, being focused isn’t a detriment and doesn’t make a smaller convention feel as limited as you might think. There are conventions for everything if you just keep an eye out for them.
For anyone who might be interested in attending a convention but are leery of the larger ones due to their expense and crowded nature, I heartily recommend checking out any cons in your area. As with most things, start local and work your way out from there. Don’t judge a con by its size or fame. You might miss out on some true gems.
So, if you have a local convention that you love, let me know! I’d love to put it up on the Weekend in Geek schedule. At some point in time, I’d love to start doing some sort of spotlight features on conventions. For that, I’m considering submissions. That will wait, though, but I really would love to hear about conventions from you all out there.