ChattaCon Hits the 35-Year Mark

By Kris C. Jones

In the formative days of my youth I was fortunate enough to be introduced to ChattaCon – a science-fiction and fantasy convention which runs for three days during the chilly third weekend of January. Although it is now a huge annual event attracting over a thousand people, it was originally only a meager gathering of a few hundred fans in the old Sheraton Hotel (now DoubleTree) downtown.

For the uninitiated or first-time attendee, ChattaCon is an assault on the senses, as costumes, exhibits, and all manner of unrestrained merry-making parade past the eye. As a rather impressionable teenager of 14 in 1978 it was nirvana. Although adult responsibilities now make it rare that I attend, around the end of winter I find I might get a little misty-eyed at the fond remembrance of the many good times, and good friends, I have made there. For, to many such as myself, ChattaCon is like one giant extended family of like-minded “independent thinkers.”

Peter Mayhew is Chewbacca sans costume

Peter Mayhew played "Chewbacca", the 800-year old Wookiee in the Star Wars series of films.

True to the roots of the science-fiction (or SF, for short) genre, ChattaCon began as a literary convention, but quickly had to contend with the growing popularity and mainstreaming of SF and fantasy via popular tv series and film blockbusters. Now its Guests of Honor include not only the heavyweights of traditional speculative fiction, but such popular audience draws as actor Peter Mayhew, aka “ of the Star Wars series, who was on hand at this year’s event.

So, if you’re looking for something to do next year to remove the “winter doldrums”, may I suggest you park your hovercar in the lot of the Choo-Choo next January. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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