Swapping Dragon*Con for Fringe Festival

dragonconOver the last few months, a storm has been brewing over Dragon*Con, a 50,000+ attendee sci-fi / fantasy / general nerdery mega-convention in Atlanta, GA. Most of it involves the fact that one of the original founders of Dragon*Con, Edward Kramer, is accused of inappropriate relations with children.

Click the link above to hear a pretty good sum-up of all the nuances of the story. If you’re short on time, though, this is it in a nutshell: many folks online are calling for a boycott of the convention, because Edward Kramer is still a shareholder. Thus Dragon*Con’s success still lines his pockets (to the tune of $150K per year), even though he doesn’t have anything else to do with the event anymore. Others point out that Dragon*Con really can’t do much about Edward Kramer’s ownership, because he refuses to be bought out. Dragon*Con could nix him by dissolving and reincorporating, but they can’t do that at the moment because Georgia law prohibits companies from doing such things while the have a lawsuit aimed at them. And indeed, Dragon*Con is the target of a lawsuit from Edward Kramer.

So, bummer for Dragon*Con. Also bummer for me, because this sealed the deal on me deciding to not attend Dragon*Con this year.

Yeah, I know Dragon*Con is stuck in a bad situation, and they can’t do much about it right now. Yeah, Dragon*Con is home to the Skeptrack, a track of programming specifically aimed to the Skeptics population, and I really enjoy that. Yeah, there are folks I really adore who I only see at Dragon*Con. But this feels like a good year to take a year off.

Besides, over the past several years, Dragon*Con has been half of the one-two event punch that makes September exhausting for me. The other September event on my calendar is Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, meaning I spend nearly the entire month out-of-town. It’s a blast, but it’s also expensive and tiring. I usually spend all of October in recovery mode.

Thus, this year, I’m going to take all that Dragon*Con energy, vacation time, driving time, gas money, hotel money, costume money, and food money and throw it at something else: the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

The Fringe Festival happens in my hometown (yay!), it happens in early August (YAY!), and it’s something I’ve wanted to get more involved with. It’s 11 days of theater involving 800+ performances. In the past, I’ve only been able to attend 5-10 Fringe performances per year, mostly only those involving friends of mine. This year, I fully attend to see a whole lot more…

…and I hereby pledge to volunteer until I collapse.

It takes a lot of people to make the Minnesota Fringe Festival run. Their annual report says that, in 2012, they had to fill 3,699 volunteer shifts to keep the event running. I want to help with some of that, because I want to see this madness from the inside. I want to spend some of my time this year supporting the crazy-talented actors, producers, and directors I know.

And then next year, I’ll return to Dragon*Con to see all the costumes, parades, and wonderful people I’ll miss this year. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

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