Friday, December 14, 2012

Faeriecon Draws the Fantasy Community Into A New World

By Roberto Flores

A few weeks ago, my wife Lauren and I had the pleasure of attending Faeriecon for the first time. Six years running, Faeriecon has been hosted the past few years in Baltimore at the Baltimore Hunt Valley Inn. It is the largest gathering of faerie artists, authors and enthusiasts. I am not the biggest fantasy geek, so when I heard of a convention dedicated just to Fae, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I honestly didn’t think there would be enough interesting material to fill out a whole weekend. Lauren on the other hand owns many Brian Froud books and is, in general, much more interested in fantasy than me.

Rum is a potion, right? (photo by Roberto)
We ended up spending the majority of our time in the vendor areas, chatting with various people about their creations and sampling the wares. Our plan was to see panels about Morgana Le Fey and Terri Windling before taking in the costume contest, but we just kept finding one neat thing after another around every the corner. I spent a good amount of time with the good folks at Night Shade Industries. They have a fun variety of steampunk things like bandoliers for potion vials or a cane that is also a fully functional taser. I walked away with a lovely leather wrapped potion bottle... for potions.

Pulling ourselves from the vendor room later in the afternoon, Lauren and I attended a panel where several major attendees spoke about paganism and how it influenced their lives and careers. I had sort of expected some amount of religion bashing and was pleasantly surprised at how even handed and respectful both the panelists and attendees were. They went out of their way several times to emphasize the idea that paganism is about what feels true to the practitioner, and was not to be mandated. Therefore, it would be hypocritical to pass judgement on the method by which other people practice whatever faith or philosophy feels true to them. I left Lauren for a bit to attend a panel on con photography. 
I don’t want to brag, but I definitely have some mad photography skills now.

Artsy! (photo by Roberto)
As the vendor floor was closing, we ran into some friends and hung out in the hotel for a while before we headed to the highlight of the weekend, the Bad Faeries Ball. It’s hard to say what I liked better, FAUN, a German pagan-folk, darkwave band whose energetic performance rocked the crowd, or the fantastic costumes that were on display for the Ball. I saw, among other things, a Faerie Dalek, the Devil, a giant barbarian, and an anthropomorphic Unicorn in fancy clothes holding a human heart.
Must be one of those Korean unicorns.
(photo by Roberto)

Lauren and I definitely want to go back next year, but it’s not because of the costumes or music or neat vendors. Those things are great, but what we really loved were the people. There is a great sense of community at Faeriecon. I touched on this a bit earlier, but there is a great diversity of interests and an acceptance of that diversity. People made eye contact and gave friendly comments to each other while passing by, treating friend and stranger alike. In the hotel dining room, conversation and friendly jokes flowed between the tables. At the ball, though many were dancing in groups with their friends, the audience also danced as a whole. I’m a naturally introverted person, so you won’t typically see me wearing a costume outside of Halloween, but I just might have to come up with something for next year’s Faerie Ball.

More photos can be found at the DC Geeks Flickr

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