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Inaugural Island FanCon coming to Langford in April

Inaugural Island FanCon coming to Langford in April

A two-day celebration of entertainment and pop culture is coming to Langford, and the guest list apparently includes at least one name from one of the biggest television series in recent history.

Organizers say they expect thousands of pop-culture and entertainment-industry fans to attend the inaugural edition of Island FanCon, which will be held at City Centre Park’s two arenas on April 13-14.

Event organizer Lonnie Eckardt says celebrity guests from the U.S. and Europe have been lined up for the movie, comic-book and gaming-focused convention, although names are not yet being revealed.

Planning for the event began last summer and has been ramping up since November, Eckardt said.

The itinerary includes a number of industry workshops and events, where attendees can learn about the nuts and bolts of the entertainment world.

It will be the first time a temporary dry floor is installed in City Centre Park’s ice arena for an event, which will increase the capacity to 4,800 people. City Centre was built in 2005 as Eagle Ridge Community Centre.

Island FanCon’s arrival comes as the fate of Victoria’s Capital City Comic Con remains up in the air following a hiatus in 2023.

Capital City Comic Con, founded in 2017 as a partnership between Cherry Bomb Toys, Downtown Victoria Business Association and Destination Greater Victoria, then known as Tourism Victoria, was last held in September 2022.

Organizers had originally planned a comeback this March after announcing the 2023 hiatus.

In a statement, Candice Woodward, co-owner of Cherry Bomb Toys, said there are no 2024 dates “at the moment” but an announcement regarding the Comic Con will come later this month.

Paul Nursey, chief executive of Destination Greater Victoria, said Comic Con will remain in hiatus for the next two years as far Destination Greater Victoria is concerned. “There was never a commitment to move beyond [that].”

The tourism organization manages the bookings for the Victoria Conference Centre and Crystal Garden, where previous Comic Cons were held.

Ed Sum, a writer for the online site Otaku No Culture who has been involved in Victoria’s entertainment and fandom convention scene since the 1990s, called news of another convention in the capital region “terrific.”

Younger fans who might not be able to travel far for conventions will now have a place to go on Vancouver Island, he said.

While there are smaller pop-culture conventions such as the annual Japanese animation and culture-oriented Tsukino-Con at the University of Victoria that have gone on for more than a decade, most conventions in Victoria die on the vine after a year or two, Sum said. “They just don’t have the resources or the people power to keep going.”

Convention organizers may also give up after not seeing a return on their investment by year three or four, he said.

“The key thing is really to bring in tourism,” he said. “What can we tell people who don’t live on the Island to come and spend money?”

Sum recalls how in the early days of the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, which began in 2003, the event ran promotional Clipper ferry packages to entice Vancouver Islanders to attend. The Seattle convention, now in its 21st year, draws 75,000 to 100,000 attendees each year.

Eckardt said he is aiming for Island FanCon to become the biggest convention of its kind on Vancouver Island. “For those folks that are familiar with Cap[itol] City Comic Con and have enjoyed that in the past, I think they will very much like what we do.”

He’s no stranger to the convention world, having helped put on a similar entertainment convention event in Prince George that’s now entering its 10th year. The Northern FanCon has attracted a number of celebrities, including William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno, Ron Perlman and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

Northern FanCon executive director Norm Coyne said the convention in Prince George has become a film-industry catalyst, helping to spur two feature film shoots in the city since the COVID-19 pandemic. “This all spun out of the relationships that were fostered at [FanCon].”

Coyne said Eckardt will have no trouble recruiting celebrities to come to the capital region. “A couple of the guests he’s booked so far are asking if they can stay extra time because they want to be tourists. That never happened in Prince George.”

Inaugural Island FanCon coming to Langford in April – Victoria Times Colonist

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