Written by James Lindorf
This past weekend was the 6th annual Awesome Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC. Awesome Con has grown every year since its inception with total attendance for the three-day event topping 70,000 last year. The fans I spoke to seem to think that attendance was a little down this year. I think that may have been for one of three reasons. First is the timing, being on Easter weekend and the same weekend as another Con could have hurt the numbers. Second, was the list of celebrity guests, while many fan favorites and big names were featured they were hurt by some late cancellations by people like Stan Lee. The third and final reason people may have thought attendance was down could be that the sheer size of the Convention center. The use of multiple floors and multiple wings of the 2.3 million square foot facility gives the appearance that there are fewer people than there actually are. It will be at least a few weeks before we know what the final attendance was and if the Con has grown for 6 straight years or not.
I saw two things this weekend that let me know that Awesome Con has what it takes to be an elite Convention. Their belief in inclusivity by expanding on the tradition Con fair and including Future Con, Awesome Con Jr., and Pride Alley, as ways to make all of their fans feel incorporated. Future Con puts the emphasis on the science in science fiction. Tackling not only real-world topics like the science of black holes or how to bring the internet to the world but bringing in fandom with the tech of the Batmobile and the science of Pacific Rim. Awesome Con Jr. is geared towards the younger fans with interactive games, educational programs and kids costume parade. Pride Alley comes from a partnership with Geek OUT to embrace LGBTQ+ fandom and community as a whole. The second thing I saw was a willingness to change on the fly. After an extended wait time to get into the Convention on Friday the staff altered their plan and was able to clear the entrance area in about an hour on Saturday, the busiest day of the weekend. There was also an incident where late in the day photoshoots were running long and people waiting in line for autographs were told they would not make it to the front of the line before time was up for the day. While the guests were obviously upset with the situation the staff presented multiple options in a polite and understanding way that left the majority of those affected accepting of the situation.
I would recommend this event to the Con newbie and veteran alike. It had a ton of great panels, quality guests and a large variety of exhibitors. You may leave without buying anything but it won’t be because you didn’t find someone whose art, writing or crafts that you love. If you add to this the dozens of other attractions in the DC metro area Awesome Con is an event worth traveling for.