If you were in the vicinity of the Radisson Hotel on South Main Street in High Point, NC, from July 15 through July 17, you might have noticed people of all ages — some in costumes — gathering for a weekend of fun at ConGregate 3.The convention is a small one, but that’s one of the things that makes it thoroughly enjoyable.
Friday at the convention was Hawaiian Shirt Day, a tradition that honors the memory of contributors to the science fiction and fantasy community — writers, actors, producers, editors, artists, and more — who were lost in the previous year.
The convention offered a variety of activities: panels classified as expert talks or audience participation; author signings; Java and Pros, where you could enjoy a cup of coffee while asking questions or listening to authors read their works; concerts with White Plectrum, Gray Rinehart, Blibbering Humdingers, Valentine Wolfe, and a gathering of musicians in The Final Jam; morning Tai Chi with Steven Barnes; gaming; children’s activities; the Dealers’ Room; the Charity Auction; the Baen Traveling Road Show; the Con Suite; the presentation of the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award for Science Fiction in the Carolinas to John G. Hartness; the Costume Contest; and the Quiet Space for those who needed a break from the activities.
Here are some of the panel topics:
- Children’s Programs: Twisting with the Wizard: Arts and Crafts; Flabbergast the Wizard; Creating the Well-Dressed Puppet; Mask Creations; STEM for Kids
- Comics and Superheroes: 75 Years of the All-American Hero; Superheroes and Why We Need Them; Superheroes and the Law; Holy Golden Anniversary, Batman!; DC vs. Marvel
- Costuming: Intro to Costuming; Iron Maker; Raiding Your Closet for Costumes; Cosplay for Everyone; Costuming Materials and Costs
- Fandom: Conventions and Cosplay with Disabilities; The Daily Lives of Fans; Where to Find Diversity in Media and Books; The Not So Secret Fandom; Do You Want to Start a Fan Group?
- Fantasy: Writing Urban Fantasy beyond Werewolves and Vampires and Witches; From Whose Perspective?; Mixing History and Magic; The Wise Old Wizard
- Film: Independent Films: Changing the Industry?
- Games: Name That Show; HollyWeird Squares
- Paranormal: Do You Believe in Ghosts?; Zombie Defense: Urban Survival School; Ghost Stories; Haunted Soundscapes
- Podcasting: Podcasting Your Passion; The Future of Podcasting
- Miscellaneous: Crowdfunding Your Vision; Blasts from the Past
- Mystery: The Appeal of Sherlock Holmes
- Research for Writing: Lost in Time; Science Research for the SF Writer
- Science: AI — Science Fiction or Fact; The Practical Physiology of Immortality; The Challenger and Its Impact on Space; Case Studies in Handwavium
- Self-Publishing: Self/Indie Publishing: Marketing; Finding the Right Editor; Rising Above the Noise: Maximizing Your Profits with Amazon.com
- Star Trek: How Star Trek Created Our World; Star Trek Celebrates 50 Years
- Steampunk: Steampunk, Victorians, and the Occult; What Makes It Steampunk?
- World Building: The Role of Politics in F/SF; Getting to Know Your Aliens and Other Non-Humans; From Corvus to Keyhole — Shipyards: Past, Present, and Science Fiction; World Building Without the Info Dump
- Writing — Crafting Characters: Developing Characters Beyond a Single Dimension; The Flawed Hero; Side Kicks — Who Needs ‘Em; Protagonists with PTSD
- Writing: On the Difference Between Screenplays and Novels; The Art of the Short Story; How Would Your Fight Scene Work?; Writing a Series: the How and the What; Tag You’re It [about tags in dialogue]; Collaboration Isn’t For Everyone: Pros and Cons
In addition to the panels, a number of in-depth workshops were offered: Plotting with Allen Wold; Photography Workshop for Cosplayers; Podcasting Workshop; 105th Squad Demo/Workshop; Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers’ Workshop; Be the Next Pixar — 3D Modeling and Animation for Anyone; Leather Workshop; and Filking Workshop.
Every panel and event I attended was lively, informative, and enjoyable. Kudos to the conventions organizers and panelists!
I’m already looking forward to next year, when ConGregate 4 will host the 55th annual DeepSouthCon and feature Writer Guest of Honor Barbara Hambly. Hope to see you there!