VermontCon: We Need Our Own Con

Coming off of the high that I get from ReaderCon ever year, or Granite State Comic Con when I can make it, I inevitably want to go to others. I had impressive plans this year: I wanted to make it to Arisia, Boskone (made it!), PAX East, Boston Comic Con, Granite State Comic Con, ReaderCon (made it!), and New York City Comic Con. I’ve generally not been one to hit up conventions in the 501st, but when there’s good programming, and as I’ve gotten more into the production world, I’ve been finding them more interesting. The problem is always time and money. You know what would solve this? Having our own convention.

Okay, there’s already two conventions in Vermont (if there’s more, I haven’t heard of them, and that’s generally a problem): Bakuretsu Con in Colchester, which focuses on Anime, and Carnage Con, a gaming convention held yearly in Fairlee. I can count the number of anime productions I’ve seen on one hand, and when it comes to gaming, I’m more at home playing D&D or board games with a closer group of friends. This past spring’s Vermont Small Press & Comic Fair had the makings of a small convention, but it’s small, and hopefully, we’ll see some good things come out of it. Langdon Street Cafe’s Geek Week programming was centered on Montpelier, and sadly, the LSC is no longer around, and its fantastic program seems to have been abandoned. Northeastwars is several years’ dead.

But there’s really no dedicated, general convention that plays to a lot of interests. There’s nothing that the whole of Vermont’s Geek community can go to and use as a barometer and generally mingle and interact. The past couple of years on this site have been an experiment to see what the state of Vermont’s geek community is, and it’s thriving, but it’s fractured. We’ve got a plethora of comic book artists – even an entire school dedicated to cartooning! – alongside astronomers, ghost hunters, gaming groups, 501st members and in the middle of the large balkanized groups, we have everyone else: the folks who love to read and write science fiction (we’ve got a ton of writers!), watch the movies (just look at the number of midnight releases that people attend), and who generally have a great interest in all things geek. Look no further than the daily Geek Things roster that we compile on a daily basis.

Don’t forget about the local, geek-related businesses out there. Quarterstaff Games, The Book Garden, Earth Prime Comics, Wonder Cards and Comics, Gamers Grotto, Triple Play (in Lebanon), and the numerous bookstores out there from all over.

Off the top of my head, I can think of some notable people here in the state: Mike Stackpole, who grew up here, a major SF/F author; Joe Citro, Vermont’s expert on everything weird; Archer Mayor, noted mystery writer; F. Brett Cox, fantasy / horror writer and cofounder of the Shirley Jackson Awards. The list goes on when you probe the younger generations: Daniel Mills, Luc Reid, Brandon Barrows, Mike Luoma, Blackwell Hird. Hell, our senior senator, Sen. Patrick Leahy, has had cameos in various Batman films.

Conventions are places where we can gather and talk, where we can learn and grow as a community, and there’s no place that I’ve been able to find, where we have this common gathering of talent to talk with one another, meet each other and see what happens. Maybe, we’ll see collaborations form from this primordial mix of personalities, or at least have a good time finding out what everyone else is up to.

I wonder what would happen, with an annual gathering of our own.

25 thoughts on “VermontCon: We Need Our Own Con

  1. Just to bolster the discussion and prove it’s worth, did you know that ChooseCo is based in Vermont? Yes, the people behind Choose Your Own Adventure are right down the road from Small Dog.

    Could part of the reason why this hasn’t happened is that the people who run the other two cons would be the driving force for establishing a “large” con and just don’t have the energy to run another larger event?

    • There’s a torturous Justice League analogy in here somewhere, where Bakuretsu and Carnage are like the Flash and Green Lantern: good at what they do, but not mainstream. There are other heroes out there as well, all doing their thing, but there hasn’t been a uniting force to bring them all together as a team.

    • No, I’d not heard about that! One of the joys of this site is learning about the geeky things around the state.

      I suspect that a lot of it comes down to manpower.

    • Greg – you bring up a good point about energy. Having help to run a Ren Faire and several state-wide events, experience shows that a small group of people provides the leadership and does most of the work, and that group relies on a large number of volunteers who help whenever they can. I’d love to help form the leadership group – but the challenge is to find others who have the time and interest. Any takers?

  2. First and foremost I couldn’t agree more. Its a shame that Vermont is full of geeks but we all have to go out of state to congregate when we all live within these green mountains.

    Vermont is trying really hard to get people to stay local, buy local, and this idea goes along with that. And I think the unfortunate truth is most geeks in Vermont feel like a minority. I know I do at times. One of the best aspects of a con is getting to see and meet other people who share the same passions as you. But right now to have that experience you need to go out of state. But if we had a convention in Vermont you could meet LOCAL people who share your interests, meaning you could make new friends and keep the geeky times rolling even after the con is over.

    • It’s really amazing how easy it is not to realize who else is in your neighborhood. Most of my closest local friends in my hobbies I met via conventions and game days.

  3. No one ever remembers me! 😉

    But yes to all of the above. I was just talking about this with Randall Drew the other day. Personally, I’d love one in the Upper Valley, but I’d take any non-Carnage, non-Bakuretsu con at this point (no one at either con would be likely interested in a creator such as myself).

    • Heh, sorry, it was an off the cuff list, but by no means a comprehensive one!

      That’s a good way to put it -there’s really no cons where creators can go.

      • It depends on the audience — people who create manga can go to Bakuretsu — but I see what you mean in that there’s nothing for creators of all kinds.

        In Vermont in particular, I think there’s a huge community of makers. Graphic designers, computer programmers, and handcraft people, to name but a few categories.

    • There have been cons in the Burlington area, like Northeast Wars, which have been fun – I don’t know how successful it was, but given the population, I agree.

  4. You left out John Rovnak- http://www.paneltopanel.net/, who put on that really great indy creator con back in the 90’s.

    I used to run comic cons for 4 years here in VT – Green Mountain Comicon. That was back in the 80’s when I was young and had the time/energy to do them alone! Now I’m working on my graphic novel and with Ric Kasini, the Winooski Small press Fair mentioned above- thanks for the plug! We will have another comics and small press and paper made fair in the fall! It would be great to develop The comics/small press fair into that show you describe- incrementally. This year we will have access to more spaces in the center block- so we think we will be making steps of upward growth this year. Stay tuned!

    • Yeah, it wasn’t a comprehensive list.

      Interesting – I’m a little more new to this than the 90s/80s, but I did attend and enjoy the SPF earlier this year – brilliant to hear that it’s coming back this fall! Let us know what we can do to help – this sort of thing is really an incremental community building project, as I see it.

    • I feel like there’s a history of conventions in Vermont to record. Green Mountain Comicon was before my time, but I remember Crisiscon in the 90s, plus the latter day events.

  5. I could not agree more! I have experience developing state-wide conferences (VSAC’s Career Conference, various career fairs around VT, the Green Mountain Renaissance Festival), and I would be *very* willing to volunteer on a conference planning committee. Anyone else want to start having serious chats – or know someone else who might make a good committee member?

  6. I’m not entirely certain why — it may stem from my initial mental image of the small press fair in Winooski — but when I think about a fledgling Vermont-based convention, it looks like a farmer’s market to me: lots of awnings and booths with some open common areas for seminars, gaming and other group activities.

    • Hee! 😀 Your description also reminds me of a Ren Faire. An outdoors Geek Con – wonder if that would ever fly? *giggle*

    • So glad we have sustained an image in your brain (and heart ;P)! The location at Winooski could support, with the other storefronts and outdoor walkways the kind of thing you’re talking about. I’ll talk to Ric Kasini- maybe there is something there!

  7. I love the conversation we’ve started – and I hope we can keep the enthusiasm going! Since the success of events often rests on the efforts of an energetic, committed leadership group, is there anyone else who’d be interested in becoming part of the planning team? Alternatively, does anyone have any suggestions for folks I (or anyone else) could contact as possible planning team members?

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