Epically Geeky Expo: New name, same geeky fun

By PAMELA GRANT
Cove Leader-Press

This weekend, Central Texas College hosted its 10th annual Epically Geeky Expo (EGX), an all-encompassing celebration of all things geeky which seeks to foster a sense of creativity and community.
EGX, formerly known as Geek Fest, began Friday night and ran through Sunday offering a massive array of entertaining activities sure to offer something for everyone. 
This year’s event had more than 100 different programs available from returning fan favorites to even a few new options. Event goers could participate in gaming tournaments (or just play for fun) or participate in role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or even live action role-playing; some visited the dozens of panels and others checked out the various creative works offered for sale at Artist’s Alley. Hundreds dressed up as their favorite characters hanging out with friends and making new ones. 
“It offers an outlet for people who are into this kind of stuff and either don’t want to or don’t have the ability to travel to the big cities,” said Jennifer Hetzel, one of the founding members who still helps organize the event. “They can get their geek on locally. They can find programs that speak to what they’re interested in. They can meet people that are interested in the same stuff. They can dress up. They can just be themselves in a place that is a little different from what they would do every day. No matter what you’re into, you can find someone here that’s into it. No one judges. It’s all very positive. We want people to celebrate the things they love.”
Money raised by EGX will go towards CTC Foundation scholarships. Hetzel said that every year, they have new events and activities such as the Cosplay Ball which was held Friday evening. They also have returning favorites such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Costume Contests.
EGX invited participants to get involved in fun and creative activities, one of which was Jennyth Mozenko Peterson’s quilting activity. Last year, Peterson and 40 others helped put together a Harry Potter themed quilt which was sold through silent auction to raise money for the CTC Foundation. This year, dozens of participants teamed up to sew squares for a Monty Python themed quilt dubbed, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Quilt’.
“I have had so much fun designing this,” said Peterson. “It’s really exciting, but kinda stressful.”
This year’s quilt will be available for silent auction at 2020’s EGX.
For many, the best part was getting to dress up as their favorite characters.
Rhiannon Schlickeisen showed off her cosplay skills when she attended the event as Newt Scamander from the Harry Potter series, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. She got the clothing items from a thrift shop and modified them to fit both herself and the character. For her, dressing as Scamander was somewhat empowering as the character is suspected to be on the autism scale, and Schlickeisen herself has been diagnosed with autism. She loves how strong his character is. Schlickeisen won 1st place in the Semi-Handmade category of the Cosplay Contest which was exciting for her as she’s been trying to win a cosplay contest for years.
Kayla Freeman also entered the Cosplay Contest and won the Judges Choice award for her cosplay as a Twi’lek (from Star Wars). Freeman’s costume required her to have much of her face, arms, and legs covered in body paint which she said took about an hour to apply. She bought the lekku headpiece but made and later altered the dress that she wore as well as the headpiece. Freeman said that costuming is her passion.
At this year’s EGX, she also made sure to participate in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. She thought it was funny that their original quest was to kill the dragon, but her party decided that the best way to do that was by creating a love potion and seducing the dragon.
“I love role-playing and creating different characters,” said Freeman. “It’s like an escape from reality. I get to be a completely different person and go on adventures.”
SpaceCorps and The Returners were two of the bands that played at the Cosplay Ball.
“The most exciting moments are when we are playing a relatively obscure piece, and maybe only two people in the entire audience know what it is, but they are screaming their lungs off. That is why we do it and what we hope to give people,” said Lauren Liebowitz, a member of The Returners, a video game cover band. “We want them to have that moment of absolute joy of I love that thing and you are sharing it.”
Liebowitz sings and plays the flute. Liebowitz said that she’d always wanted to be a part of a band but getting to be in a band that plays video game music was extra special. She said that she enjoyed attending EGX.
“This has been really fun. It’s just a positive, pleasant place…It’s really inviting,” said Liebowitz. “People are really participatory.”
 

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