Described as a high-quality anime, comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy expo, Central Alberta Fanfest is slated to run Aug. 19 at the Ponoka Jubilee Library.
Things kick off at noon and run through to 4 p.m.
Central Alberta Fanfest’s objective is to provide a high-quality (and safe) anime, comic-book, sci-fi, and fantasy expo with a small-town vibe, explained Cynthia Bottomley, a library clerk/programmer.
As Bottomley pointed out, some folks can feel intimidated (or are unable to get transport) to the larger cons in Calgary and Edmonton.
“This is a free event open to all ages but guests under nine must be accompanied by an adult,” she said, emphasizing that everyone is invited to attend. It’s a welcoming environment, she noted.
“They are very supportive of each other and of their passions,” she said of participants. “So that is also a goal of Fanfest - we want to expose people to what this is - it’s a lot of fun!
“We also want it to be accessible. We don’t want it to be high-cost, and we don’t want people to feel intimidated.”
Bottomley said cosplay (the dressing up and performance of characters from books, movies, and other media) can be described as an art form. It’s more than just dressing up - those taking part can really have fun getting into ‘character’ as well.
“It’s more of a showcase. And it’s also highly creative - some cosplayers make their own costumes from scratch,” she explained.
The first Fanfest was held in the summer of 2019.
“But initially, this all started from our anime/manga club at the Library in 2018. We have since re-named that group the Fandomedia Club because we don’t just do anime and manga - it’s kind of anything geek-related,” she added.
Part of the reason behind starting up the club was, as mentioned, that some of the members weren’t comfortable about attending larger, similar functions in Edmonton or Calgary for example. The club meets every Thursday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Library.
“Anybody is welcome to come.”
Those under 12 do need to have a signed parental form. And those under nine must have a guardian with them, she said.
Meanwhile, there is no charge to attend the coming Fanfest, and members of the Fandomedia Club will be helping to run various panels as well.
Bottomley said that the most popular event is the cosplay contest which consists of four categories - beginner, journeyman (mid-level), master, and family.
“The fun thing is the interactions - the cosplayers are generally pretty interactive with the crowd, so it’s a very fun event.”
She also noted that some guest visitors will be dropping by this year, including local author G.W. Thomas who will be running a panel on Alberta connections in Pulp comics.
“We also have two guest cosplayers who have participated in the competitive cosplay circuit in Alberta,” she said.
Other highlights include interactive exhibits such as a Jedi Academy (where folks can learn some Jedi lightsaber moves) and a unique 360 video booth, she said.
“The latter is a unique souvenir for cosplayers; they can make a 360 mini video of themselves in character,” said Bottomley. “We are also bringing back the vendors’ market. We haven’t been able to host one since the 2019 expo.”
For complete details about Central Alberta Fanfest, check out https://www.ponokalibrary.com/central-alberta-fanfest-2023.
In the meantime, Bottomley said organizers are on the lookout for donations of baked goods for the cosplay cafe zone and some helpers in the setup/take-down of the event.
“The thing I like most about running the club and also with Fanfest, is the chance to meet people and see them share what they love. The people who are involved with this are so creative!
“It’s very inspiring.”