Area’s largest pop-culture convention celebrates 40 years this weekend

By Ellen Rossow
rossowel@mnstate.edu

Star Wars. Batman. Harry Potter. Doctor Who. The world of “nerds” is constantly changing.
For the past forty years, ValleyCon has dedicated a weekend to the celebration of all things loved by Trekkies and gamers alike.
With all things “nerdy” becoming increasingly popular, this weekend’s fortieth anniversary celebration of ValleyCon promises to be one of the biggest events yet.
According to Tony Tilton, ValleyCon chair, every year is different, but this year is planned to be especially unique.
The con’s fortieth anniversary has tailored an assortment of special events. Past attendees will be back to discuss the 70s and the dawn of the convention culture that has grown so popular over the years.
2014 also marks the fifty-year anniversary of what Tilton calls a “watershed year in pop-culture history.” 1964 was the year the Beatles arrived in New York, the creation of Star Trek, the beginning of the James Bond films, and the year that pushed Batman into the limelight. According to Tilton, 1964 deserves credit for much of the pop-culture icons we know and love today.
In recent years, ValleyCon has become known for  bringing in a variety of guests as well. This year’s headliners include film actress Dina Meyer (known for her work in Birds of Prey, Starship Troopers, and the Saw films) as well as comic book artist Tom Nguyen,  author and game designer Troy Denning, and acclaimed psychic Tiffany Johnson.
“The guests alone are pretty big names,” Tilton said.
The guests are only a small part of the variety that ValleyCon offers.
Annually, ValleyCon has been home to a unique film festival. Tilton said this is the last year the fest will take place in conjunction with ValleyCon as a result of its popularity. In the future, the Fargo Theater will host the film festival.
ValleyCon is also home to a plethora of vendors.
The convention has also become known for its all-age costume contests. Not only are their formal contests for the best costume of the weekend, but a “best costume of the hour” award is granted as well.
“Think of it as a weekend-long Halloween party,” Tilton said.
And when he said party, he meant it. While ValleyCon prides itself at being a family friendly celebration, the party lasts all night. A series of parties  will be occurring at the Doublewood Inn.
“Every room around the pool is a party suite,” he said.
Each party room has a theme, from Harry Potter to gaming, promising a good time for anyone.
“There is a huge variety of stuff,” Tilton said. “It’s fun and informative.”
According to Tilton, college students can use the convention as a way to network as well.
The event will have workshops available, which Tilton claimed would be particularly interesting and helpful for students involved in film, theater, art, and even English.
With discounted rates for students, ValleyCon is affordable for the variety of events it offers attendees.
ValleyCon is put on through the work of many local businesses and volunteers, as well as the non-profit organization Red River Science Fiction and Fantasy (R2SF2). The group is nearly fifty members strong that meets the second Tuesday of every month and is always accepting new members.
Whatever the pop-culture phemonemon is that you hold dearest, Tilton encourages you to stop by the Fargo Doublewood Inn this weekend to join in the fun.
For general inquiries or more information about registration and ticket prices for ValleyCon, visit the convention’s website at valleycon.com.

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