By MARIA SCHLEH
On Saturday, April 8, the University of Mary Washington’s Geek Alliance held their annual convention, MaryWashiCon, in the Hurley Convergence Center. This year’s convention was the result of a combined effort of Geek Alliance club members and leaders over the course of several months in order to deliver the ultimate “geek” experience. MaryWashiCon strives to offer something for everyone—whether you’re interested in anime, video games, Korean boy bands or whatever fandom strikes your fancy.
The convention started at noon on the HCC’s third floor with a short opening ceremony. From there, convention activities continued until 7:45 p.m., concluding with a rave held in the University Center’s Colonnade Room. Two classrooms were reserved for panelists with a third designated as the game room. Attendees had their pick of consoles, from a PlayStation 4 to a Nintendo Switch, as well as a variety of games.
Jasmin Hansen, Jake Hora and Grant Raycroft scheduled the event and were responsible for determining panel times, ensuring that there was no overlap for panelists, and working in enough breaks for said panelists to enjoy the convention as well. This year, the schedule was accessible using the Guidebook app, reducing the need for printed materials. Panels included “K-Pop 101,” “Revamped!: Vampires in Anime and Manga,” “Dramatic Readings of Stupid CreepyPastas,” “Life Hack: Cosplay” and a short lip-sync competition.
MaryWashiCon 2017 also provided vendors and catering for the second year in a row. “The Space Needle,” run by Kaela Gosdzinkski, sold crocheted plushes and other handmade items throughout the day and even held a raffle. Iainne Johnson, the designer for MaryWashiCon’s promotional art, participated as a vendor as well. MaryWashiCon also had the opportunity to host a table for GexCon, a small LAN video gaming convention from the local area.
A new addition to the convention was the roaming floor staff, who ensured that everything was running smoothly and on time. Dressed in reflective safety vests and armed with walkie talkies, the floor staff was an essential part of keeping the day safe and fun for everyone.
The convention’s main activities concluded with the annual cosplay contest, judged by Jasmin Hansen, Kaela Gosdzinkski, Maria Schleh and Blake Gostelow. Katelyn Brown, hosted the event, dressed as a glamorous robot. She kept up an entertaining banter with the contestants. After the cosplay contest, attendees transferred to the UC for the rave, hosted by Amanda Gambale.
Putting together a successful convention is no easy feat. “I started planning the convention as far back as November and still that last week until launch was intense,” Raycroft said. “We changed our venue from the traditional Monroe Hall to the Hurley Convergence Center. We wanted to move there in 2016 but we weren’t certain how well the location would suit us. Moving there was a risk that I think really paid off. While the surface area for the convention was smaller, it was a much grander production.”
Despite the difficulties, MaryWashiCon had a good turnout, including current students and alumni, as well as assistant dean Melissa Jones and her family.
After the event, Raycroft felt optimistic about the future of the convention and believes it has the potential for further growth.
“It’s been a very long and tiring path to our launch date,” Raycroft said. “What made that worth it for me was when Dean Jones’s son, Joshua, thanked me. To know it made his day made mine.”