By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
From August 14 to August 16, the campus of Central Texas College (CTC) was a hub for all things “geeky” for the sixth annual CTC GeekFest. From listening panels, workshops and gaming tournaments to celebrity “Q & A’s,” attendees had the chance to learn and engage in any geek-themed topic imaginable.
Attendees, volunteers, vendors and staff traipsed about campus in costumes that spanned many genres of “geekdom.” It wasn’t unusual to see a Harry Potter standing alongside a Batman and then turning the corner and spotting Pac-Man as attendees had fun with cosplay.
“I always thought cosplay was weird. Why would grown people want to do this, dress up and act in character? Then I saw the transformation on people’s faces when my friends dressed up and we went to a flea market in San Antonio. People are so sad, friendless, no happiness. When they saw my friends in their Spider-Man costumes, you could see the transformation. Even the adults would get excited. Both kids and adults would walk away with photos,” said Dana Hee, celebrity guest, stuntwoman and Olympian. “We all need a little happiness in our lives. We need to ‘check out’ and step into another world. Dress up and have fun. I love the people of Killeen and supporting our military. GeekFest is fun, and I get to interact with everyone, unlike most speaking events, where I do the event and head out.”
Vendors filled the Anderson Campus Center with booths selling geeky crafts, retro video games and comic books. And in Artists Alley, a banquet room was filled with artists that brought along works to sell or made commissioned pieces on the spot.
Alexis Marshall and her son Evan McLearen, artists from Copperas Cove, teamed together and set up a booth to sell art to GeekFest attendees.
“I had a good experience. The other artists were friendly, and we ended up sharing some really memorable moments. I got a chance to see some very unique and extravagant costume designs. I talked with some interesting folks and got quite a bit of positive feedback about my artwork. I would certainly consider coming back again next year,” Marshall said.
“It was cool to be surrounded by such great and supportive artists, and I really enjoyed being there with my mom,” McLearen commented. “Everyone was so surprised that I was drawing like that at only 12, and they were really supportive, and it was a great experience.”
Contests were held throughout the weekend with chances to win cash and prizes. Some of the contests included a cake contest, costume contests and a scavenger hunt.
“It has been really great to watch this event grow over the years. This is my first year volunteering, and I am happy I braved the heat to photograph the amazing costumes and pop culture celebrations,” said Krista Kasper, volunteer. “I am happy I can enjoy an event like this locally and cannot wait to help out next year!”
Entertainment included live music, films, a shadow cast production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a Harry Potter Yule Ball. A popular event this year was the “Princess Bride” showing with “quote along” participation encouraged.
“We really loved playing to such a like-minded crowd, especially one with such a family-friendly focus. We would absolutely play again. We met several interesting and talented people. The artists were amazing,” Jared Shawe, bass guitarist for Married with Sea Monsters.
GeekFest is a fundraiser for the student ambassadors of Central Texas College. CTC staff, community members and volunteers all help with its success year after year.
“Thanks to all the support from CTC staff, volunteers, vendors and presenters and FANS–this was a great year! With well over 2,000 attending, we should reach our goal of endowing additional scholarships,” Barbara A. Merlo, Director of Marketing & Outreach at CTC, said. “We especially appreciate the support from vendors who travelled from Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, even Pennsylvania and to our ‘celebrity’ guests Dana Hee and Chuck Huber. We hope to see everyone back next year Aug. 19-21.”