Recently, we had the opportunity to attend a new regional convention- the Tulare SciFi Con, in Tulare, California. The convention is new in the way that this was its second year- and we were informed by several vendors and attendees that it had grown immensely since last year.
Here’s our thoughts- definitely take the short drive (if you’re a local/Central California resident) and check out this convention in 2016. It took place at the International Agriculture Center on the south side of Tulare. The event used most of one of the huge convention spaces, and spread a few events into some of the other venues just outside. Bonus- free and ample parking. The one draw back was that there isn’t a lot of shade and it was a lovely spring weekend in Central California- sunshine and warmth abounded!
One thing that this convention did that made it heads above other small local events we’ve visited is that there were actual guests. The headliner wasn’t some obscure actor from the Power Rangers. They had numerous names- some that have been around for years- including Adrian Paul (who, by the way… it’s completely strange hearing him talk in his native accent after so many years of a TV persona), and NerdLush pals Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal. To be 100% honest, if it weren’t for a tweet from Tara earlier in 2015 we wouldn’t have even heard about this convention. Definitely glad we did though!
Numerous local groups were in attendance representing their fandoms- reps of the local 501st garrison held ground against a Trek fan group and a G.I. Joe group. We didn’t even know there were G.I. Joe fan groups! Would’ve loved to see the old Browncoats group I was a member of there… we should get the band back together! Anyways…
Local artists and authors were aplenty, as well as several that had traveled into the area for the event. Several good sized booths of comics from Valley comic shops were represented- another boon from other local events where only 1 shop was in attendance. Also, numerous booths offered collectibles. Products ranging from new and old action figures, toys, art deco pieces, clothes, and even the old Star Trek III glasses from Taco Bell. I was personally tempted to pick them up to complete the collection we had as kids, but it was pointed out that the last of our glasses had bit the dust. Boo.
Though there were many artists and creators in attendance, I would still like more. Perhaps I am biased due to the larger events I frequent but I feel like I want to take hours walking a dealer hall and still feel like I haven’t seen it all. This is something that I think will be dealt with over time, as the event grows. Heck, next year NerdLush may even have a booth… wonder if we can get Hard Six to come up and be our booth buddies. And maybe copies of Stewart’s book… hmmm…
Of importance is that there were panels that we actually wanted to see. This did not happen at other events. Sure there were several that we didn’t have an interest in, but that’s a personal thing. We saw that most of the panels were full and that bodes very well to the convention meeting the interest of the attendees. For us, we were interested in the Con Artists panel with Tara and Yuri (we have video, coming soon). Which went above and beyond and allowed fans to ask not only about that project but also anything that the pair had done. Including their thoughts on creating independent projects.
We also caught the Jaws panel wherein the writer of the original film and the director of the third (and art director on the earlier ones) shared behind the scenes stories. They were at the convention with their book that relates to the making of the film. The original film is before my time but still a favorite. It was quite interesting hearing their stories and commentary on several pieces.
We were also interested in the Robotech panel as we grew up watching that anime. Caught a few behind the scenes stories- in particular comments about the music which made us laugh. Though we enjoyed the music, mostly, there’s Minmei and um… shudder.
One suggestion for next year- call some food trucks. There was plenty of space that could be utilized for more food offerings. As it was, there were 3 or 4 options that looked tasty but the lines were too long (and the wait for pizzas was almost an hour!). We left and went across the freeway to McDonald’s.
In any case, the point is- Tulare SciFi Convention did a good job and we look forward to coming back next year.