September 28, 2020

MassEffectBY KATRINA EDLEFSEN

The dragon watches as snow begins to fall lightly outside of his den, knowing full well that as the snow fell so did the curtain of fantasy that he and his followers had placed around his den.

As the final colourful denizens of his land cast a mournful glance at the building before walking away, the spell is broken and the six-year reign of Kon the dragon ends.

Sunday, Feb. 23 marked the final day of the non-profit fan-run convention, Con-G, of which the dragon Kon was the mascot.

Fans, volunteers and vendors alike climbed back out of the rabbit hole and into the real world after a final weekend filled with as much colour as the wildest parade and the warmth of the closest family gathering.

The convention, whose name is a combination of the words “Convention Guelph” and a play on the Japanese writing system kanji, was the brainchild of a group of friends, who, according to Con-G co-founder Lindsay Barker, found themselves lost on the way to another convention.

“So we had a very long car ride and we randomly started coming up with ideas for a convention in Guelph because, at that time back in 2008, there actually weren’t any cons west of Toronto,” Barker said.

“It’s why the convention was in February too, as there wasn’t any currently running in February and we didn’t want to pull attendance from any other convention.

Most of us had been on the exec of the FLASH club at the University of Guelph and had run smaller one day events over a few years and ran them successfully with a very, very small budget.”

The event the group came up with ended up becoming Con-G.

Initially created to be a Japanese comics and cartoons (known as manga and anime) convention, it ended up expanding to include almost all forms of nerd culture.

Along with its genre change, Con-G has also moved three times since its first weekend in February 2009, at the Ramada Conference Centre in Guelph.

This year it took place at the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre which proved to be a much more solid location for the growing crowd.

However, according to John Reddick, the early days of the con were some of the best ones.

“Con-G would also be the first con that I actually made friends at,” Reddick said.

“I’d gone to Anime North 2008 and Fan Expo, but Con-G 2009 was so personal and small that it was easy to meet people, even for awkward teenagers.”

Starting in 2010, Con-G began to play host to multiple voice actors and other special guests, all of whom helped draw fans like moths to flames.

For its final year, Con-G played host to Dante Basco who is best known outside of the geek community as Rufio in Steven Spielberg’s Hook.

Along with the voice actors, Con-G has also hosted smaller celebrities in the geek community ranging from popular cosplayers like Dawn “Kaijugal” McKechnie to Internet celebrities like Dr. Holocaust who, according to Cristopher MacKinnon, a member of IXI! Studios, helped make Con-G that much more special for attendees.

“Con-G was great because it packed all the fun and socializing of other conventions into a much smaller space, and it always had a great selection of what I like to refer to as “Internet celebrities,” said MacKinnon.

“People who are always cool to chat with the fans and hang out and do whatever as long as they don’t have another panel to run. They’re just like normal con-goers in a sense, and it’s always fun to pal around with people you idolize.”

Despite its popularity though, all good things must come to an end and in 2013, con-goers received the shocking news that 2014 would be Kon the dragon’s final flight.

After six years on the con circuit, Con-G was coming to a close.

For some of Con-G’s longtime fans, like Becca Pollington who attended all six years of the con, the news came as quite a shock, but only spurred her to enjoy the final convention more.

“I vowed to attend every day and to make sure I made every minute count and I’m glad I did,” Pollington said. “I know it’s just a convention but Con-G meant a lot to me and I’m really sad that it’s all over.”

But why did the con end? According to Barker it was one of the hardest decisions she ever had to make in regards to the convention.

“It was a roller-coaster of emotions when we decided to end Con-G,” she said.

“We started running Con-G right after most of the staff were in our final years at university for undergrad or masters or had just graduated, so we had a lot more spare time then we do now with full-time jobs, significant others, houses, etc.

And unfortunately we had to make a choice between our real lives and running Con-G because it wasn’t fair to either doing both.

And we didn’t want to see Con-G go downhill because we couldn’t run the best convention we could possibly run. And I do think that was the right decision.”

For its final year, 1,600 geeks, nerds and general oddballs arrived in a flurry of colour with the passion of a political rally to say one final goodbye to the dragon and the people who brought him to life every year.

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