After some discussion on Steve Brust’s blog, I’m wondering if it’s possible to list all the cons in this area. There really are a lot of them, and it’s very easy to lose track. I’ve seen various attempts to concatenate all the cons in this area, but they seem to come and go, and to quite often miss some important cons. Kevin’s listing is one of the best, but it’s hard to keep up to date.
For those reasons, I’ve decided to compile a list that doesn’t list specific dates, but rather general tendencies, so that hopefully this list won’t become incorrect too quickly. In other words, I’m aiming for a perpetual calendar, not a single year’s specific listing.
- A physical, face-to-face con, not online.
- Within a 5-6 hour drive of the Twin Cities.
- Concerned with SF&F and (what I consider) closely related hobbies.
- Open to the public.
- Persistent. Has been run consistently, within the above limits, for a few years, and usually occurs every year. (Thus I’m not — yet — listing things like Berserkon, BritCon, Furry Migration, GameHoleCon, Gaming Hoopla, Gaylaxicon, or MantiCon.)
I’m trying not to make judgments about what’s fannish and what’s not, at least within broad bounds. And I’m not trying to limit it to fan-run, non-profit cons, because it’s actually kind of hard to define those criteria precisely. This is not a list of recommendations, just an expansive list of cons.
So, within those limits, cons I know of are:
|Name||Approximate time||Location||Overall focus|
|SuperCon||Superbowl weekend (Late January?).||Hastings, MN||Relaxacon|
|Con of the North||Usually mid-February||Twin Cities||Gaming|
|Gamicon||Late February||Iowa City, IA||Gaming|
|Minicon||Easter weekend||Twin Cities||General SF&F|
|MarsCon||Early or mid-March||Twin Cities||General SF&F|
|GaryCon||Late March||Lake Geneva, WI||Gaming|
|Odyssey Con (aka OddCon)||Early April||Madison, WI||General SF&F|
|DemiCon||Early May||Des Moines, IA||General SF&F|
|Anime Detour||Late March||Twin Cities||Anime|
|NoBrandCon||April||Eau Claire, WI||Anime|
|WisCon||Memorial Day weekend||Madison, WI||Feminist SF|
|CoreCon||Mid-June||Fargo, ND||General SF&F|
|Fourth Street Fantasy||Last weekend in June||Twin Cities||Writing & SF&F|
|Convergence||Fourth of July weekend||Twin Cities||General SF&F|
|AnimeIowa||Late July||Coralville, IA||Anime|
|Diversicon||Early August||Twin Cities||General SF&F|
|Mnstf fallcon (The name changes every few years, but the con is very consistent.)||Usually October||Twin Cities||Relaxacon|
|Fallcon (the comic book one)||Early October||Twin Cities||Comics|
|Crypticon||Late October||Twin Cities||Horror|
|ValleyCon||Late October||Fargo, ND||General SF&F|
|MetaCon||Early November||Twin Cities||General SF&F|
|Icon||Early November||Cedar Rapids, IA||General SF&F|
|OmegaCon||Appears to be at varying times||Northwest WI||Relaxacon|
That’s already 25 cons, averaging more than two per month. And considerably more during the summer months. And not even getting into more far-flung cons, like the ones in Chicago. I knew there were a lot of cons in this area, but listing them out, I’m amazed.
Also, I am quite certain I’ve missed some. I know, for example, that I’m missing some university gaming/anime/comic/fandom clubs’ local cons, which still meet the criteria I’ve laid out. Which cons am I forgetting?
If possible, I’d like to keep this listing up to date, so feel free to give me updates, either via email or in the comments.
If you do decide to expand this list to Chicago (which is on the outside fringe of your range, being about a 6-hour drive on a good day), here are a few cons you might include:
Windycon (general SF&F, the weekend closest to Veteran’s Day)
Capricon (general SF&F, early February)
DucKon (general SF&F, June)
Midwest FurFest (furry, the weekend before Thanksgiving)
Anime Central (anime, May)
Anime Midwest (anime, same weekend as CVG)
C2E2 (comics and media, late April)
Musecon (fannish arts and creativity, early August).
I can also think of:
KitsuneKon (anime, Green Bay WI, mid-May)
DaishoCon (anime, Wisconsin Dells WI, Thanksgiving weekend)
Geek.Kon (anime and Western media, Madison WI, late August)
maybe a fringe case, but there’s also Paganicon (pagan/earth-centered spirituality, Twin Cities, a weekend near St. Patrick’s Day)
CONsole Room (Doctor Who, Twin Cities, mid-May) is going into its second year and should probably be included eventually.
Excellent! Thank you!
I specifically didn’t include the Chicago cons because that’s out of my sphere of experience. I know there are people who consider it a reasonable drive, but for me, it’s always been just the other side of practicality.
And thank you for pointing out the nearer ones I missed. I especially should’ve remembered Geek.Kon, since I’ve heard so much about it.
You’re welcome! The thing about many of those Chicago cons is that they’re not actually in Chicago proper, but actually in the western suburbs, which makes the drive from the Twin Cities a bit more reasonable. I’ve only ever done Windycon of the ones on that list, but if you ever want to expand out into the Chicago scene, I think you would really like it. It has the vibe and “fannish amenities” of a Minicon (great consuite and bar, superb vendors, interesting and varied programming, good gaming, excellent music track) but with a higher level of energy since it has closer to 1,000 attendees.
A couple more that I remembered:
Dellacon (relaxacon, Wisconsin Dells WI, mid-September)
FuMPFeST (funny music, Chicago, late June) – this just had its first year but I think it will be around for the long haul.
I’ve long since thought about going to one or more of the Chicago cons, but not had the wherewithal.
Thinking about Paganicon, there are a lot of things that might, if you look at them right, count as cons. The average Magic: the Gathering tournament could count. Heck, open gaming at the Source or GPS could count. And there are a lot of related hobbies that I’m sure have highly fannish gatherings. Sewing circles; LAN parties; maker fairs; Linux install fests; etc. etc. How about the Uptown Art Fair, or the Fringe?
I’m not really sure how to define my parameters so those don’t count, to be honest. If we add in those kinds of events, the number of ‘cons’ in the Twin Cities would probably number in the hundreds.