Inside Dragon Con 2017 – Bethany’s Reflections

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It’s been a little while since Dragon Con, but I was remembering this past labor day weekend’s convention fondly recently as the weather has continued to change, and “The Last Jedi” approaches. Dragon Con is a great convention experience for Star Wars fans, and I wanted to do a throw back post of this most recent one. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there next year!

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*Drum-roll, announcer’s voice* “Dragon Con, con of the dragon, double complete dragon!!!!”

This is usually my first thought when preparing for a Dragon Con. A lot goes into con prep, as any con veteran will tell you, but prepping for Dragon Con is always a special process, because Dragon Con is my home convention.

Backstory:

I’ve been going to Dragon Con for years now. Enough years for me to have to stop and think about it before I tell you how long (7 years). Each year I enjoy the convention more as I spend time with old con buddies, make new con buddies, and experience more that Dragon Con has to offer. This year is slightly different though, as I’ve entered the work force (specifically the US Air Force) and am leaving from my first base, flying in Thursday night to catch the convention Friday-Sunday. I arrive exhausted, but excited to meet up with everyone and pick up my press pass Friday morning before starting my Dragon Con 2017 experience.

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Blanton Con:

The past couple Dragon Cons have seen me and my brother Riley staying with our parents near Atlanta with many of our friends also attending the con, which we joke is a mini Blanton Con going on during Dragon Con. I highly recommend staying with friends for a full, fun con experience! Staying up late talking about the con, going out to eat together, snacking and treking around the con floor, standing in line for panels, sitting with each other in panels, and experiencing everything the con has to see and do is so much more fun with your fellow attendees and friends! In the case of press, working on blog posts, podcasts, social media, etc. is made more fun with the presence of friends too. :)

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The Media Experience:

Being press at a convention (and especially Dragon Con) is both an honor and a lot of work. It’s a job I’m passionate about though, and one I look forward to at each convention. Dragon Con is great about having a space for reporters to work in the media room, and providing guidance and a great overview of the convention and the press rules for each reporter as  you check in. The press staff at Dragon Con are always very helpful and professional, and I always leave the convention grateful for their hard work.

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The Panels:

Being a wee bit of a Star Wars fan, I tend to spend a lot of my time at the Star Wars Track at Dragon Con. Dragon Con’s programming is divided into genre or franchise specific tracks, and has thousands of hours of programming to offer anyone about anything regarding sci-fi and fantasy. The panels I thoroughly enjoyed this year included:
An Hour with a Wookiee and a Bounty Hunter Panel
The Last Jedi Fan Speculation Panel
Star Wars Rebels Fan Appreciation Panel
Masculinity in Star Wars Panel
The Phasma and Leia Book Launch
The Meet the Stars of Star Wars Panel
The Remembering Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker Panel
The Amazing Star Wars Authors Panel
The Shakespeare’s Star Wars Fan Reading
The Star Wars Costume Contest
The Ahsoka, Leia, and Phasma Panel

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The In-jokes:

Attend conventions long enough with the same friends and you’ll develop not only a fondness for one another, but also a number of in jokes. Conventions can be so crowded at times that short people (like myself) have difficulty seeing where their friends are walking when trying to navigate to the next panel or event. My friend Bruce has, for several conventions now, held up a straw so that all of us could see and follow him. This eventually earned our group a lot of stares when, during convention silliness, we’re shouting across to each other “follow the straw! FOLLOW THE STRAW!!!!” Similarly, my friend William has this thing for sprite. Like, if sprite were a human they’d for sure be dating. One of my other friends spent a significant portion of the convention trying to switch out William’s sprite drinks for other drinks. If you ever see a guy at a convention staring suspiciously at his drink, glaring at his friends, and tasting a tiny sip of it before properly drinking it, he’s not a royal afraid of being poisoned, it’s just William.

One of the jokes this year was how often my friends and I kept running into Daniel Logan (Boba Fett from Star Wars). My brother Riley hosted his panel on Friday, I hosted his panel on Saturday, and a friend of ours hosted his panel on Sunday. Not only did I see him each of those times, but also walking outside of one of the hotels, and at the Last Party at Alderaan. Daniel is always so nice, would high-five me and ask me if I was still having fun at the convention each time. Arguing about midichlorians, cracking Star Wars puns every chance we got, speculating on the new books and movies coming, and stabbing each other with fake lightsabers are all parts of the con experience. DSC_0320

The Costumes:

Oh man. The costumes at Dragon Con are the best costumes I’ve seen at any convention I’ve been at! Spanning genres, of course the ones I pay attention to are Star Wars, but the Lord of the Rings, the Power Rangers, My Little Pony, World of Warcraft, and so, so many others are prominent throughout the convention. Dragon Con is cosplayers’ heaven in terms of variety, creativity, and the sheer number of costumes. My favorite this year were several people dressed in inspired-by-Leia costumes, with an R2D2 trunk filled with glitter they would ‘bless’ you with (aka sprinkle all over you) if you wished in memory of Carrie Fisher. This was a touching experience for me, despite not being able to get the glitter out of my hair for days.

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The Star Wars Track:

The Star Wars Track is (surprise surprise) my favorite track at Dragon Con. Also known as SW@DC, it has constantly improved throughout the years I’ve been, and the paneling is interesting and entertaining to the fans. Not only are the panels (many of which I mentioned above) are good, but also other events. The Youngling’s Podrace is an adorable event for families with children who want to build pods out of all sorts of crafting supplies and equipment and then race them. The Last Party at Alderaan is like a giant, friendly, Star Wars rave, with people dancing, people in costumes, people fighting with plastic lightsabers, and in general having a good time. The Shakespeare’s Star Wars reading will make any Star Wars fan laugh throughout, as it’s a dramatic, and silly, reading of portions of the Shakespeare’s Star Wars books.

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The Music:

The music at Dragon Con always creates a geek party like atmosphere. Whether you’re in a track room playing dedicated music (Star Wars music in the SW track room), walking down the halls and seeing small musician groups playing, attending any of the concerts, or going to parties like the Last Party at Alderaan, the music at Dragon Con always livens up and lends to the atmosphere.

Moderating Panels:

This year I moderated two panels at Dragon Con: the Saturday Meet the Stars of Star Wars panel, and The Last Jedi Fan Speculation panel. I love being on and moderating panels, but moderating panels is hard work! I spent hours prepping for each panel, making slides, doing research, creating notes, prepping interview questions, and preparing photos and videos for each panel. I recommend to anyone hosting or moderating a panel to make sure you do prep well in advance of the convention, and ask your friends to help you out during the panel too. I was so grateful to my friends for taking photos and videos for me, as well as helping with the equipment, set up, and fielding of audience questions.

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Leaving:

My least favorite part of conventions by far is the end of the last day, typically very late in the night, when saying farewell to all my friends. Exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, I collapse into bed knowing I’ll feel post-con blues soon, and already thinking about everything I want to do at the next year’s convention, or the next Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention I can attend.

Bethany Blanton

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  • Christine Morris

    What a fond look back at a convention we all love so much! I enjoyed your article and especially the photos Bethany!