Another year, another AwesomeCon! This continues to be one of my favorite conventions to attend. Each year this convention tends to add more and more content that is not just exclusive to the Artist Alley / Celebrity Photo ops that all conventions have.
For those of you whom don’t know that I have an 8-year-old son, now you do, but also, how do you not know by now? Anyway, Noah and I arrived around 3pm on Friday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The location of the convention center is amazing. It is easy to get to, the hotels in the area are within walking distance and have thus far been easy to book with, and the City of DC does a great job ensuring the safety of those walking. Since I had begun attending Awesome Con, they have expanded every inch of this convention, including the choices of food. This year, they had DC Eats locations around the building and you never had to stand in line for longer than 15 minutes. For those of you whom frequent conventions, you know how big of a feat this is. They also had a walk-in airport-like snack and go area that was convenient.
We immediately started in the far left section of the Exhibit Hall, which holds the Awesome Con Jr. part of the convention. This was one piece that I thoroughly enjoyed last year, and it continued to not disappoint this year. Awesome Con does a great job thinking of fun panels and activities for children so they’re not just walking around whining to their parents about how there’s nothing for them to do. I can say that because that’s exactly what my child does. They included “Movement Zones” this year in not only the Awesome Con Jr. section, but the regular areas as well. This is important to note for those of you whom, like me, have a neurodivergent child that is in need of movement breaks to get through everything. A lot of times as parents of children with neurodiversity, or even adults with those same diagnoses, you have greater anxiety wondering how you will get through this event that you really want to attend when there’s so many triggers. Awesome Con does a really good job at balancing this. Awesome Con Jr. panels included Light Saber Training, Casting Spells, Superhero Yoga, and countless drawing activities!
Moving over, we went to the Science Fair, Book Fair, Pride Alley, Destination Cosplay and the Remix Stage. Intertwined amongst these is of course the merch booths as well! I have been fascinated for the past couple of years with the diversity of sections that Awesome Con has. Maybe I haven’t been to other conventions in a long time, but Awesome Con does it right by being inclusive. The Book Fair section definitely expanded this year to include National Geographic (Noah’s favorite), local libraries and even a booth dedicated to helping suggest books to people. The Science Fair booths include NASA, the National Science Foundation, many different branches of the military, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Science Panels included Black Panther Tech, Pop Culture is History, Oceans Jeopardy, Women in NASA, NASA trivia and Spacecraft in Fact and Fiction, among others.
Destination Cosplay is a section that does a brilliant job at giving those interested in beginning cosplay to speak with professionals and learn how to navigate the process. There are set ups in Destination Cosplay for Cosplayers to be able to take photos with backdrops and also meet ups with other Cosplayers in the same franchise. Returning this year were booths dedicated to cosplaying fan groups, like Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and Colonial Marines. The Star Wars booths were raising money for homeless animals in Washington DC by silenting auctioning different items, such as multiple lightsabers and hugs with a Great Dane named Andy. There were even some panels dedicated to cosplaying. These gave people the opportunity to learn from professionals how to make lace wings, prop designing and even meet with the 501st Star Wars cosplaying group to discuss their costumes and preferences on companies for lightsabers!
Pride Alley gives a voice to the LGTBQ+ community. With panels like Queer Female Representation in Comics and Queer Liberation in X-Men, people are given knowledge about the representation in media. This piece of the convention is amazing because it feels so opening, friendly and loving. It’s like a big hug is wrapped around the entire convention community and accepting no matter your identification and sexuality. I even saw one older gentleman with a shirt that said “Free Dad Hugs. I’m Proud of You.” In a society where there is so much hate, it is warming to see love. On top of the inclusive-ness of Pride Alley, there were also some panels that were inclusive to the Disabled community. Again, big warm hug around everyone! Though, I have to say, last year I felt like I saw more Furries – but no complaints from me because that’s a tough one to tackle with my 8-year-old. Maybe the definition has expanded since my days of Furries, and it’s more an issue with my lack of knowledge. I promise to explore that further.
Artist Alley is place where Noah and I spend a lot of time. We talk to the artists, learn about their projects and discuss the path that those artists had taken. Noah was beside himself to meet Shadia Amin, who has illustrated graphic novels of Spider Ham and Aggretsuko. She was hands-down one of the nicest people I have ever met. She was personable and so patient with Noah. Noah left giddy and telling everyone how he had just met one of his idols. So, Shadia, if you ever read this, you are the best, we love you and Noah will remember how kind his idol was to him for the rest of his life.
Another of Noah’s idols, Simu Liu was set on our list for the Saturday morning Photo Op. Awesome Con had utilized the typical convention style lining up with table on the ground and numbers. The Celebrity Photo Ops crew went through the lines, scanned QR codes and gave everyone a ticket. The cost of a ticket was worth a Photo Op for 2 adults and 2 children under 10. This is the first photo op that I have ever purchased and I was definitely not disappointed. Simu Liu is so kind and Noah melted on the floor. He was patient with him and understanding. The staff is very clear about how the line must keep moving because it is “not a Meet and Greet.” So, you don’t really get any time with the celebrities and I’m not sure if they like it that way or if they wish that they could speak with their fans a little longer. I did catch Simu Liu talking about how adorable it was that Noah was very straight forward about his expectations taking a picture and got a good laugh out of it. The Ace Experience was new to this year – as normally they just have the standard autographs and selfies with celebrities (which they still had next to this).
Other smaller activities were the trivia at the Remix Stage with dancing to themed music, and table-top gaming rooms.
Awesome Con still remains my favorite convention of the year. I genuinely appreciate every opportunity they’ve given me to cover this convention over the past couple of years. The staff, guests and attendees are so nice and welcoming. We can’t wait for next year!