Photo: Elliander Eldridge
By Olivia Judd
Archon, the local St. Louis Sci-fi and Fantasy convention returned to The Gateway Convention center in Collinsville for it’s 35th year. Last year it was held at the Wesport Sheraton Plaza in St. Louis, which worked for the annual convention, but had the events spread out through out the area which was both confusing and inconvenient for everyone.
“Last year they switched over to the other building and it wasn’t as good of a year.” said Kenny Powell, one of the many dealer’s at the convention.
It returned to the convention center, which was much more familiar for everyone who had attended the past few Archon’s before it. Many participants were very happy to see it in it’s usual place once more. However, even with the large space the convention center has to offer, some events had to be held at the Double Tree Hotel across from it, which was probably convenient for the people that had their rooms for the weekend there, but for those that didn’t it was not.
“They’re organization is definitely better here.” says Regina Guchioni. “I think they should open more of the rooms for people, and maybe have some better guests as well.”
They’re guests do tend to cover all the ground, from artists, to author’s, musician’s, and voice actor’s, but they’re not recognized by the majority of people. They are also very good about a wide range of fan panels covering various fandoms, but they don’t really seem to be well run all the time.
“We try to adapt to what’s popular and different as it comes along, as well as hold on to our traditions at the same time.”said Steve Norris, the con chairman.
However, The Grand Masquerade (costume and skit contest) is what mainly attracts the attendees. People have driven and flown in from all over the country just to participate in it. Unlike most masquerades, it actually is very well organized, starts on time, and customizes the lighting and music/audio how you want it, and makes sure that everything works at the required tech rehearsals.
It is open to all ages, and has many different awards for both workmanship on the costumes and performance. There are many people in great costumes roaming the halls during the days, but masquerade participants tend to go all out and put on a fantastic show because of it.
Another down side to the con is their policy that all weapon like props have to be “peace bonded” (Tied to you or your costume in some way that makes it so you can not harm anyone with it).
“It seems to give us the balance of letting people have their weapons, but gives us the security that we’re comfortable with.”said Steve.
Fortunately for the masquerade contestants they can un peace bond their props for the performance, but for the rest of the con all swords, knives, and fake guns no matter what the material may be must be peace bonded at all times. Many believe this to be unnecessary, despotically for those high quality hand made props that they can no longer pose with for good pictures because of it.
“This is a convention for fans, run by fans, and we’re proud of it.” Steve points out. “Over the years it’s become a place for people that enjoy science fiction and fantasy can come together with other like minded people and share the experience and feel comfortable.”
The Archon staff always reviews over how the con went after it’s over to see if any major chances need to be made, but for now it will continue to be the same.
Next year’s Archon will be held the second weekend of October, and again at the Gateway Convention Center in Colinsville.