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Published on September 23rd, 2014 | by Cheryl CS

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Making the most of your Expo experience

With less than a week left, we’re ramping up for the third annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. Whether it’s your first convention or your hundredth, there will be plenty of new booths and some exciting guests to keep you occupied the entire weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to an epic photo op with Jim Beaver (Supernatural for the win).

We’re all agreed: conventions are great. But stick a few thousand nerds into a confined space for prolonged periods of time and there can be issues. Line-ups abound. Creators are occupied with seemingly never-ending fan conversations. Dedicated cosplayers can bring foot traffic to a dead stop. Accessing an ATM is nigh impossible.

Conventions are great. But stick a few thousand nerds into a confined space for prolonged periods of time and there can be issues.

There’s a lot to take in, so we’ve opened up the discussion to our local Edmonton nerd community, who have some tips and tricks for the best ways to enjoy a convention.

“Have patience. This is a big one because as conventions grow, lines are longer and the con floor is more crowded; remember, everyone is there to enjoy themselves, so be respectful,” says Sylvia Douglas, co-founder of LGNYEG. “And bring comfy shoes, water, snacks, a bag for swag purchased, a folder or tube for artwork, and bags/boards for comics.”

Andrea Brown, Sylvia’s LGNYEG co-founder, agrees with being prepared for everything. “I’d suggest bringing a backpack and your own food, since generally onsite food is stupid expensive,” says Andrea.

Having a plan is tantamount to a great con experience, which is why you can view the show schedule on the Edmonton Expo website. “Look at the schedule and make a plan for what you want to see and know the times for autographs and photo ops if you are planning to get them,” says Nicole Reid of 501st Legion. “Pace yourself, eat, and wear comfortable shoes. And have fun!”

Don’t forget that you’ll be in crowds all day and, well…things can get sweaty. “Stay hydrated and hygienic,” says Sailor Moon blogger, Pauline French. “And wear a good pair of walking shoes.”

The Pulp contributor, Matt Bowes, even has a blog post dedicated to convention tips on This Nerding Life. His post, entitled “How to Convene – Comic Book Convention Etiquette and Tips,” gives some much-needed advice on how to stay healthy, hydrated, and happy at a comic book convention. For example, conventions can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so pack Purell. And, if you’re nervous about meeting some of your heroes, a cocktail or five is a great way to boost confidence.

If you’re nervous about meeting some of your heroes, a cocktail or five is a great way to boost confidence.

Along with all of these life-saving tips, we’d like to add one very important suggestion: Always. Bring. Cash.

So what, exactly, is everyone looking forward to at this year’s Expo?

“I look forward to meeting artists and visiting artist’s alley,” says Andrea. “Lots of great local talent in Edmonton! I only get to go on Sunday this year because I’m holding down the fort at Happy Harbor, so I’m going to make the most of my day. I hope I can do it!”

Collectibles, comics, and cosplay are some of the convention’s main draws. Pauline French, like many others, is looking forward to adding to her collection. “There are amazing artists to discover, celebrity heroes to meet, and grail collectibles to track down and haggle over,” says Pauline. “This year I’m most looking forward to the guests, but I’m also excited to see what Sailor Moon items might show up with the anniversary celebrations still going strong in Japan.”

Dan Shessel of The Northern Nerd Network attends conventions purely to indulge in his passions. “Where else are you going to find someone to have a full-on conversation about their favourite Faction Type and Class Starship from Star Trek while waiting in line to get an autograph from Wil Wheaton?”

His wife and Nothern Nerd co-founder, Trina, is looking forward to the cosplayers. “When I went to my first convention, it was mostly to get autographs and attend panels,” she says. “Now I’d rather just check out the vendors and see all the great costumes other con-goers come up with.”

Trina isn’t the only one looking forward to the Expo’s cosplay scene. “What am I most excited about? As always, seeing all of the costumes people put so much hard work into and getting some great photos of/with them,” says Shauna Rene. “Also, I plan to attend the BioWare panel on Dragon Age: Inquisition. I simply cannot wait for it’s release and I look forward to listening to my friends at BioWare further torture me with details of the game I have been waiting for, for years.”

“Where else are you going to find someone to have a full-on conversation about their favourite Faction Type and Class Starship from Star Trek while waiting in line to get an autograph from Wil Wheaton?” – Dan Shessel

For others, each convention becomes less a place to buy and more a place to gather. A place where friendships are developed and mutual interests are shared. A place to promote charities and foster human connections.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing my friends,” says Sylvia. “I’ve been attending the Calgary and Edmonton Expos since their inception and, since then, I have been so lucky to meet really amazing people. I love that at both Expos, every turn I take I run into someone I have met through our love of all things geek.”

“I’m most looking forward to working the [501st Legion] charity booth and raising money for Kids With Cancer,” says Nicole. “Swing by the booth and donate some money to get a picture with us! Support a great charity and get Star Wars pics—what’s not to love?”

“I look forward to the exposure,” says Janna Cummings. “I get to see things, and maybe do things, that I would normally not have the chance of normally seeing or doing. Cons/Expos are the opportunity to geek out on new items and new visualizations. To boldly try out things you’ve never tried out before.”

Our contributor, Allan Mott, certainly has his Expo plan in place:

Whether you choose to heed our advice or not, we hope you have a great convention this year. Keep an eye out for me as Silk Spectre and don’t forget to tweet us @thepulppress to tell us your favourite part of the convention!

The Northern Nerd Network’s latest podcast also features convention tips for the eager Expo beaver:

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About the Author

| Editor-in-Chief and founder of The Pulp. Cosplayer, gamer, comic book collector, and anime lover. Fond of the Oxford comma.



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