Hundreds dress up for GeekFest at CTC
By PAMELA GRANT
It’s not every day that you can see ninjas, wizards, princesses, and Jedi warriors in the same room, but they—and more—all came together to join in the geeky fun at Central Texas College’s annual GeekFest last weekend.
Hundreds of costumed characters roamed the college campus as they checked out the various activities and events GeekFest had to offer. Activities included gaming, role playing, participating in various themed panels, and more.
“I think one of the coolest things about this is that we have volunteers that come back here year after year. They kind of build their own community,” said Barbara Merlo, who helped coordinate the event. “This gives people a place to express themselves in whatever geeky way they want to, and in the process, they connect with people who have similar interests.”
The fan base with the largest representation by far this year was Harry Potter. There were two rooms completely dedicated to Harry Potter. Fans could create their own potions, make wizard wands, and even create their very own beasts. They celebrated Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, held trivia contests, and simply hung out and discussed the books.
“I love all the Harry Potter things this year!” said Alyssa King, who cosplayed Queen Amidala. “I think the best thing about GeekFest is that there are so many people together who love the same thing. You get to experience the new culture of geek, and then you get to find new things to become obsessed with.”
Other panels included classes on how to publish your ideas, steampunk, low budget film making, how to run role playing games, and dozens more.
Entire rooms were dedicated to playing video games, anime, robotics, LARPing, and role-playing games to name a few.
Larry Suino shared his love of Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games throughout the day Saturday. He said he’s been playing since 1974 and was glad to have the opportunity to share the game with others. He said his favorite part of role playing is the interaction and the bonding.
“I’ve always enjoyed [GeekFest] because it brought people together to see other aspects—we all have our niches that we like—but GeekFest brought all those niches together so that you could go around and find new ones, something you might have never seen before—such as Dungeons & Dragons,” said Suino.
Outside were tents filled with people in medieval garb teaching passersby about their passions whether that was crafting armor, weaving, or calligraphy. The medieval recreation group, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), had an arts and sciences scavenger hunt encouraging participants to try out and get a taste of what the SCA offers.
“We fit in really well. There are SCA members who are published science fiction authors. There are SCA members who are scientists...So, for us, these are our people,” said Kevin Marsh, Sir Maelgwyn Dda. “Someone who can imagine dressing up as Black Butler could imagine dressing up medievally. They can imagine a time that was different from the time they’re in right now, whether that’s future or past…There’s a lot of crossover…They can come here and kind of bargain shop or sample from our buffet.”
Despite the heat, Maelgwyn and many of the other SCA warriors still engaged in armored combat, rapier combat, and even youth combat to the spectators’ delight.
For many fans, bringing their favorite characters to life and getting to see others playing their own favorites was GeekFest’s biggest draw. Although many opted not to dress up, hundreds took the opportunity to show love for their fandom and dress up, whether it was as a comic book, anime, or even steampunk character. Some dressed up simply, merely wearing a shirt emblazoned with a symbol of their character. Some crafted or bought simple costumes. Still others created elaborate costumes with intricate details and realistic looking props and armor, truly bringing their characters to life.
The costume contest is always a popular GeekFest event. This year’s costume contest featured four major categories. The first category was Costume Casual. First place in that category went to Andrea Williams cosplaying Tohru and representing Aes: Brass Revolution. The next category was Props/Armor, won by Brice Garcia cosplaying Awilix, Goddess of the Moon. The third category was Duos/Groups. Karen, Seamus, and Freya Dixon won that category dressed as Johnny Bravo, Bunny Bravo, and Little Suzie. The final category was Handmade, won by Alyssa King as Queen Amidala. Additional awards were presented to Kayla Roberston-Jones as Bayonetta who won Best in Show and Larren Knowlton as Hawkgirl who won the Judges’ Award.
“I’m shook. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy,” said Kayla Robertson-Jones who won Best in Show in the Costume Contest with her Bayonetta cosplay. “Everyone else’s costume was so good!”
“There were some amazing characters out there,” said Larren Knowlton who cosplayed Hawkgirl and received the Judges’ Award in the Costume Contest. Knowlton said she chose Hawkgirl because she felt like the superhero is a really strong character that’s often underplayed. Knowlton used her creative skills to make Hawkgirl’s mace. The mace was made from a bouncy ball, googly eyes, foam for the spikes, the top of a water bottle, a broomstick handle, and fake leather on the handle.
“The best thing is the people you meet…I just think the community is really great,” said Knowlton. “I enjoy coming to GeekFest every year. I think they did an amazing job this year…It kind of appeals to everybody, not just cosplayers or comic bookers. It appeals to any fan.”