Fostering a love of fandom: Fourth annual MiniCon takes over library


There are not many public places locally for a teenager to go to express and share his or her interest in video games.

But luckily for 14-year-old Joseph Boehlke of Seymour, the Jackson County Public Library is just such a place.

On Friday night and Saturday, the Seymour library hosted its fourth annual MiniCon event, attracting hundreds of children and adults who all share a passion for “geek culture.” Think video games, Dungeons and Dragons, live action role playing, comic books, super heroes, anime and Star Wars.

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MiniCon is similar to events like ComiCon, GenCon or other fandom conventions, just on a smaller scale and free. The event is a way for people with a common interest to meet, talk and play.

“I love it. It’s such a fun experience,” Boehlke said. “It’s great to see how creative people can be and what kind of things they’re into.”

Friday night was for adults age 18 and older and included games that are either too difficult or inappropriate for children.

Lola Snyder, head of youth services, said attendance was down slightly from last year due to the area being under a tornado watch for most of the evening.

Scattered rain showers also may have led to smaller crowds Saturday with around 300 people showing up compared to last year’s 500.

The weather didn’t dampen the fun, however, Snyder added.

Besides gaming, there were crafts, demonstrations and interactive activities, including karaoke, a Dungeon Crawl, a Minecraft obstacle course, Kishar live action role playing and a Stranger Things escape room.

Participants were encouraged to come dressed as their favorite fictional character and take part in the costume or cosplay contests.

As a fan of the video game Halo, Boehlke based his homemade costume on an ODST Spartan character.

He found ideas online for how to make the costume, purchased foam board, tools and materials and put it together himself.

“I stayed up all night making it, but I had a lot of fun,” he said. It also was a lot cheaper than buying a Halo costume, he added.

Besides Halo, Boehlke said he also is a fan of Star Wars, which was well represented at MiniCon.

The franchise, which has spawned movies, games, books and toys since the 1970s, continues to draw legions of fans.

One such group of fans is the 501st Bloodfin Garrison, a professional organization whose members create and wear accurate Star Wars costumes to participate in community events.

Those attending MiniCon could interact with characters including Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers and even R2D2.

Like Boehlke, 12-year-old Evan Shuler of Brownstown said he appreciates being able to go to an event that highlights his interests.

“Where I live, kids are into football and that’s it,” he said. “So there’s nothing to do.”

He got the opportunity to learn about the live action role playing game Kishar and even stepped in to play, getting to shoot fake arrows at opponents. Taking place in an Arabian Knights setting, participants dress up as knights and other characters and act out the story.

Shuler also enjoys playing video games like Skyrim and Fallout and card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon.

“A lot of people say they hate stuff like this just because they don’t understand it,” he said. “But coming here, no one is judging you for what you like.”

Dressed as Wonder Woman, 6-year-old Arabella Smith of Seymour, was excited to show off her costume and even got her grandmother, Kim Roberts, to dress up as Cleopatra.

“I love dressing up,” Smith said.

“I think it’s great that the library does this because it’s fostering kids’ imaginations and creativity, and I want her to hold onto that as long as she can,” Roberts said.

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