Northern FanCon will be back in 2024.
The popularity of the three-day entertainment expo last weekend at Exhibition Park makes that a virtual guarantee, says Northern FanCon executive director Norm Coyne.
The willingness of the paying public to buy tickets to see the likes of Hollywood movie stars Lou Diamond Phillips and Emily Swallow, watch UFC 288 with former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin and get dressed up in their most elaborate cosplay contest finery saved FanCon from being shelved permanently by the non-profit organizers of the event.
“In many ways this was the most successful year of FanCon ever,” said Coyne.
“This is a profitable year, which is what we needed after a couple of pretty big hits. Attendance was up significantly from pre-pandemic numbers in 2019 and we had about 30 per cent more booths than we ever had.”
Last year’s FanCon happened after two years of pandemic-related cancellations and attendance suffered with the lingering effects of people choosing to avoid public gatherings and crowds to lessen the risk of a COVID infection.
This was a make-it or break-it year for the event and Coyne and his crew of about 50 volunteers who made it happen are relieved at the public’s response to the show this year.
“People are back to wanting to go out and support live events,” Coyne said. “FanCon is for fans of everything and we want to keep pushing the envelope and see what works. It’s nice to have something for everyone.”
“There’s only one year when it might have been better, (the first one in 2015) when we had William Shatner. Now we know it’s going forward in 2024.”
The province provided event grant money and for the first time FanCon was also supported by a grant form the Northern Development Initiative Trust, which Coyne says made a huge difference to the bottom line.
The Star Wars theme remains popular and Coyne says that draws people of all ages to FanCon. The lineups to meet Swallow, who plays the role of The Armorer on the Star Wars The Mandalorian series and the lineup of people wanting to meet her was long.
“Usually our demographics are 25-34-year-old women, but you see a lot of kids now that are into cosplay and anime,” said Coyne. “There’s a spirit that resonates from the young to the old, and we saw that turn out.