MisCon 32 – A Convention to Celebrate Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror

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MisCon is my local convention here in Missoula, Montana. All of the common trappings of the small convention are present and, in some cases, exceptional. This is really the thing that not only differentiates MisCon from other small cons but makes it absolutely special among conventions. All of the advantages of a small convention (small crowds) with standout special guests and incredible panels, art shows, and much more.

MisCon is a 4-day celebration of fantasy, science fiction, and horror that takes over the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown every Memorial Day Weekend.

Nerding out at MisCon

See below for a gallery of images from MisCon 32

Vendor tables packed the interior of a spacious hotel lobby with the entirety of the hotel’s conference and spare rooms taken up by panels and other activities. This con meanders and, as it does so, traces a neat path through the hotel lobby, onto the main floor, straight through the center of the hotel’s restaurant and out the back doors to a wonderfully sunny back field of hardwood trees.

The entire con sits along one bank of the burgeoning Clark Fork River, now skirting its banks with melt water from winter. I have to say, even as the con winds down each evening and the excitement of activities, celebrities, and going over my con budget abate, the incredible surroundings manage to keep me in a state of wonder. It really is four full days of magic.

If you’re savvy you can do what myself and the wife did for MisCon — get those tickets early! Head over to the MisCon website and preregister. Trust me when I say this will shave as much as 20 minutes off getting in the front door. An army of attendees will arrive at the launch of the convention on Friday night and stroll past the massive line straight into the convention, an absolutely wonderful feeling. Pickup for early passes starts Thursday night and continues through the convention, a secondary (good job planning ahead) table is set up for preregistered attendees.

When I attend a convention I look for a few things to fill my time, a quiet space to relax between events, and faces I remember from the prior year. This year I checked all my boxes and managed to not only see lots of familiar faces, and find a wonderful sunny corner to rest in, but found so many entertaining events I often found myself torn between them.

Panels are by far one of my favorite convention forms of entertainment. I would hate for you to think the entirety of this con is any one thing though, so be aware, there’s far more than just panels at MisCon! This year the convention was packed to the gills with writing panels, creative panels, and a variety of other items such as worldbuilding that, while I didn’t make it to them, I would’ve loved to attend. At any one time roughly three panels would be running at the same time, often more. At one point 7 events, many of which I wanted to attend, all ran at once. In an ideal world the con would’ve run for weeks and I would have the free time to attend everything!

Costumes, cosplay, and period dress all made a stop along the way. I would guide you on what the best day is to dress your best but its a bit of a mixed bag. If you’re like me you select only a few days, or even times, to cosplay and leave the rest of the convention as free time where the complications of wearing a costume don’t need to be considered. I know there are those of you out there who stay in costume for entire conventions and I absolutely salute you. I lack your fortitude and respect your perseverance!

Nearly every day of the convention has excellent attendance, except the tail end of Monday as MisCon closes. With greater attendance comes photo ops and that wonderful moment when someone stops you and asks to take your picture. To me this is the payoff for the time and energy I’ve invested into my outfit! I would suggest, if you’re looking to cosplay for only a portion of the convention, at minimum dress for success on Sunday. Sunday is the costume contest, has fantastic attendance, and tends to be a very busy day.

Vendors, oh, so many vendors. Half the vendors I know. I know them from last year and the year before, including some of my friends from Muse Comics, the hometown comic shop. If you’re at the convention and need a few packs or even a box of Magic: The Gathering to run a draft, they have you covered. Forgot your dice on your way to the hotel? Missing a supplement or wanna try out any number of new tabletop experiences? Muse not only carries everything you need on the showroom floor but also caters to requests and can retrieve more inventory from their locally run store. It’s fantastic to have the store manager on hand, always helpful and happy to take special requests from the storefront only 10 minutes away.

This year one of the special treats was spending time with Geek Lolita and Nemesis Gear. Hanging out with these wonderful ladies we collected some of the finest pieces they had available to assemble a grand ensemble for me! All leather, all steampunk or almost “western-punk” (is that a thing??). It was a pleasure to spend time in the booth and talk about the handmade wares. Every piece they sell is made by hand and, holding and inspecting each piece reveals the amount of labor and love dedicated to these masterpieces.

The local Belegarth group spends most of its time in the large riverfront outdoor space of the convention. The foam flies as howling combatants thrash each-other in wild combat. It’s an incredible spectacle to go from happily chatting away with the Rosearik Rikki Simons, the voice actor for GIR on Invader Zim, to armored combatants taking gladiatorial turns in a fighting ring. Anyone interested in participating, learning, or even just watching (what I did) is welcome to join the crowds and take in the show. My mind, watching the melee, half-expected to see some cheapjack bellowing as they passed through the crowd “Place your bets, place your bets here!” If I’d had a few silver to spare I assure you my bet would’ve been placed.

While I could go on and on about the convention the final item I wanted to mention is a special treat of happenstance that only adds to the magic around MisCon — the local farmers market, every Saturday morning. The Missoula farmers market spans a few city blocks and, on a sunny day, is the finest way to spend a morning I can imagine.

After hunting down a parking space my wife and I walked the length of the farmers market, picking up breakfast, coffee, and some fresh vegetables along the way and ended our walk in the middle of the convention. The two events mingle perfectly and literally cross over into each other. Saturday, because of the farmers market, massive attendance and great photo ops has become my favorite convention day. I dress in costume and enjoy strolling around in public dressed as Fitzroy Brumblebottom! My wife, dressed as Princess Peach endures frequent, but enjoyable, distractions as every little girl along our path demands her picture taken with a “real life” princess. I love being a nerd.

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