Awesome Con 2016

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The weekend of June 3 – 5 was Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. I had the pleasure of attending the event, although due to illness, I didn’t get to go for nearly as long as I had planned.

According to the Awesome Con website, “Awesome Con is a place for fans of popular culture. At its heart, Awesome Con is a comic-con that embraces all aspects of geekdom and pop culture.” All weekend, I found that to be very true. Celebrity guests ranged from the current Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, to Matthew Lewis, also known as Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter movies, and included so many other incredible guests. There were actors from Star Wars (David Prowse, Ray Park and Tim Rose), Guardians of the Galaxy (Michael Rooker), and Once Upon A Time (Georgina Haig), among many others.

This was the first “real” comic-con I’ve been to. I go to a ton of book events and have attended BookCon the past two years, but Awesome Con was different. Everyone was thrilled to be there and many had obviously been planning for months. I’d never experienced the artistry that is cosplay in real life until I walked past Peach from the Mario games, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Anna from Frozen, and Alexander Hamilton within the span of five minutes. To be quite honest, I felt like the most out of place person there since I hadn’t gone in costume – I’ll be sure to rectify that for next year!

IMG_4994On Friday, I headed to the Washington Convention Center to pick up my badge and check out the scene. I walked around the exhibit hall floor, which was filled with vendors selling all kinds of amazing products. There were comic prints, amazing t-shirt, the District of Columbia Quidditch club, stunt training programs, and pretty much everything your geeky heart could ask for.

I also sat in on a panel about finding a career through fandom hosted by John Gale. It was helpful to hear how he turned his past into a successful career by using his passion, knowledge, and skills. He interacted well with the audience, asking questions and having the audience do demonstrations.

Saturday of Awesome Con was filled with so many amazing guests and panels. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted due to time conflicts, but what I did see was amazing. The highlight of my entire Awesome Con was seeing the Matthew Lewis Q&A panel moderated by Fox 5’s Kevin McCarthy. I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan since I first read the books and saw the movies, and Matthew Lewis will always be Neville Longbottom to me. From the very first question, he had the audience in the palm of his hand with his charm and humbleness. He talked about his first day on the HP set (the broomstick mishap with the broken wrist), what his patronus would be (a panda), and that famous photo shoot (apparently, his mum was furious. Matthew thought only the small audience of the magazine would see the images and never imagined them going viral). He talked about filming the dragon scenes in Goblet of Fire and the fact they were acting afraid of a man running around with a tennis ball on a stick.

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Matthew has only seen each Harry Potter movie once, at the premieres. He recently tried to sit down and marathon all eight and he was so embarrassed and critical of his own performance, he only made it through half of the first movie. It was an hour filled with Harry Potter discussion, behind-the-scenes info, and some definite fangirling from everyone in the room.

I also want to point out that Awesome Con did a great job making panels accessible to wide audiences, with sign language interpreters at all of the highly-attended panels, and interpreters were able to be requested for the smaller panels as well. That was really great to see, since the fandom community is supposed to be a welcoming and inclusive space, and Awesome Con really made an effort to live up to that.

Overall, my experience at Awesome Con was great. The lineup of guests they had was incredible, and there was something for pretty much every kind of fan out there. If you wanted comics, you were set. If you wanted video games, you were set. You could even talk to Charles Martinet, also known as the voice of Mario. If you wanted Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, or Disney, there were plenty of panels, artists, and events to go to. There is something for everyone, whether you want to attend panels or wander the exhibit hall, including kids. If you’re in the DC area, I highly recommend checking out the next Awesome Con from June 16-18, 2017.  I can’t wait to see what they’ll have in store for fans next year!

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.