Look, I’m as surprised as anyone. I was certain that geek fast was dead. I mean, the plague killed bigger and more powerful conventions than them… And they already missed a year here and there even without those complications. It’s a difficult event for the library to mount, a lot of variables a lot of planning. I really wouldn’t have blamed them for just deciding to sit this one out.
I’ve actually only heard that they were coming back about three weeks ago. Definitely not much more than two weeks before the event itself, and it was so close to Neo Comicon that I wasn’t sure if we really had it in us to do two back to back shows. Still, it’s a show I like, being one of those more programming driven events. Maddie hadn’t been out to this thing since all the way back in 2016, and she found herself really looking forward to it, another chance to bring out her my hero academia costume and connect with other people. So, Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and headed out.
I was taking a chance bringing out my Borg costume for this one… Star Trek is passé these days, and Star Wars is real the real attention is at. Still, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only person and track garb there. This event draws a lot of boomers and Xers, with children that they’ve raised on Star Trek. I was surprised at how often I was recognized, not only by adults, but by teenagers! Around the corner at one point and one of the vendors piped up “now there is the scariest summer of my life!“. He was of course referring to the Star Trek next generation cliffhanger “the best of both worlds“. I nodded. “It’s funny, but of all the two-parter is they did after that, they never quite managed to get you to those same stakes.“ The vendor agreed. “During that third season,“ he told me. “They’ve gotten into the habit of always resolving everything within the last five minutes… But we got closer and closer to the end of this episode, 10 minutes, five minutes, three minutes, and I found myself wondering how tehy were going to wrap this up. I spent all summer nervous and wondering what was going to happen when the show came back.“. I remember that summer too. I mentioned to him that I was certain that Captain Picard wasn’t coming back to the show, that he’d be taken off with these bad guys, and that Patrick Stewart would basically go off and go back to Shakespeare while Commander Riker would take command of the enterprise for the remainder of the series pack. It was fun chatting with somebody about this and reminiscing about the days when Star Trek was genuinely good and had such cultural relevance. As I wandered around, I made sure to menace the other people in Star Trek costumes, and was surprised to how many there were… In fact, I wasn’t even the only one carrying around a triple! There was a great looking doctor crusher with a triple in her jacket pocket. It seem to be behaving better than mine, considering I couldn’t get mine to sit on my shoulder the way it’s supposed to. I managed to get it attached just before pre-judging for the costume contest and about 20 minutes before I had to walk on stage for the main competition. That’s really my main goal, to have him ride out on my shoulder so that I can remove him and display him to the audience. I’ve gotta remember to use a better magnet the next time though.
That pre-judging was a problem. One of the main events that Maddie and I were looking forward to was a screening of Howls moving castle. The Akron Summit public library has a massive auditorium with a large screen… Just about movie size, so they get to see this on the big screen is a real treat. However, the movie was screening from Eleven to One, and pre-judging was at noon! It didn’t help that Maddie and I were a little late getting in as well, so we probably missed about 20% of the movie, but we did get to watch was every bit as good as we remember, and incredibly fun to watch on a proper screen with a good sound system.
Costumes were in abundance, despite the fact that the costume contests itself was a little lightly populated. Queen Anna Boleyn shuffled through the doors as I was making my way out for a swag dump, she waved a wand at me to vanish the evil machinery! She would occasionally come up to me throughout the convention with a screwdriver adjusting my mechanics. Another running joke was the way that R2 D2 seem to keep running into me. The R2-D2 builders club had a table downstairs with the 501st Legion, creating of nice Star Wars presence there. But occasionally the droid would roll his way upstairs and mingle with the rest of the people. It would see me and Emmett allowed high pitch scream, as I’d come over and scan it and examine it for the edification of the crowd. At times I almost felt like a little droid was following me!
I’ll say this, not only did Geekfest return, they veritably exploded. It’s bigger than I’ve ever seen it before, with them really pulling out all the stops. I remember the days when this show was basically maybe a half dozen tables up by the auditorium, mostly library personnel making buttons and playing games with the kids, one panel room and maybe some improv going on in the main auditorium. This time around they utilized all four floors. Star Wars characters on the ground floor along with a cosplay repair station… I can’t even tell you how amazing that was! When fingers started popping off my glove, I was grateful to be able to use their hot glue gun to put myself back together. Also video game rooms downstairs with retro video games and custom ones made by one of the guests. Another floor had board games… Some of them giant size. A couple tables in the middle were reserved for first timers playing dungeons and dragons. Another floor gave you a chance to explore strange history, along with a table of comics to give away. The vendors and artists were spread out as well. Instead of a handful of tables… A group of vendors that are slowly growing more and more numerous over the years, you could now find artists and vendors scattered throughout the library. There are tables around the length of the entrance, and then spread down below the atrium, and then even more nestled in between the bookshelves and rose and valleys of the library. It’s a fascinating set up, and the library actually went out of its way to draw attention to them by issuing kids a “passport“ where they can get stickers from each booth… Trying to collect them all, and thereby visit all of the guests. This is all in addition to the art show that was going on on the ground floor, one that you could vote in for People’s choice award… And constant panels and games going on in the two conference rooms in the atrium. Indeed, the overlap was so great, that we always seem to be running from event to event, particularly towards the end when we were coming out for the costume contest lineup. Maddie was none too pleased to have to leave her panel to get in line. “They were going to give away BOOKS at the end!” She lamented.
Still, despite all the challenges, as we drove home, Maddie and I agreed this may just have been the best convention we went to this year. Being so program driven just makes for a far more entertaining experience, and is exactly the sort of thing that will keep Maddie (who’s convention attention span is usually about 2 to 3 hours) completely occupied for over five hours. It’s also a great place to make new friends, something that kiddo is discovering and taking full advantage of.
Here’s the thing, the festival bills itself as a mini comicon? I don’t think so. There’s things I’m much fuller convention experience than a lot of the ones that we pay much more money to get into. It’s also become one of our favorites, and will be back next year.