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Infinity Con 2017
By Jill Childs
Labeled “North Florida’s fastest growing convention,” Infinity Con experienced an influx of visitors this past Friday and Saturday. Lovers of comic books, sci-fi, cosplay, gaming, and movies came from all over the southeast to tour the convention and support local artists, entrepreneurs, and unique non-profit organizations.
Event Manager, Ray Hancock, and Event Coordinator, David Heringer, had big dreams for this year’s convention. Last year, they hoped to be able to move to a larger convention space, to hold an adult after party for vendors and out-of-town guests, and to add in a children’s area. All of these goals were met, and in speaking with Heringer, it was obvious that he was thankful for that.
"Ghostbusters" at the Con
The venue for this year’s convention was the Florida Gateway College gymnasium. This space allowed for rows of vendors to be surrounded by a video gaming area, a large tabletop gaming area, and a large children’s tea party and story time area. As one young girl left the children’s area, Heringer showed his excitement over seeing her happy expression. He exclaimed, “Oh man, this is what it’s all about.”
After noticing that cosplay was one of the greatest interests of visitors at the past convention, there was a variety of cosplay groups present at the convention. Cosplayers make their own costumes and act in character, much for the enjoyment of their fans, but many times for charitable endeavors. And although most people relate cosplay to superheroes, anime, and sci-fi characters, some of the guests this year were those who make dreams come true. Belle, Snow White, Elsa, and Princess Leia graced Infinity Con; they enjoyed reading stories and having tea time with the little visitors.
Disney princesses Belle, Elsa and Snow White made an appearance at the convention.
The event also hosted panels under the pavilion where visitors could learn about everything from light saber battles to creative writing. Returning visitors Jeh Howell (makeup effects artist) and Nick Wolfe (world-renowned face and body painter) led the FX Showcase panel. Cosplay contests and gaming tournaments added even more interest to the day.
And while many of the vendors came for exposure and to make a profit from their creative works, there were also many vendors who came for exposure for non-profit motives. Costumers with a Cause is an organization that hosts costume walks for various causes, such as raising money for autism and multiple sclerosis. They have an upcoming walk for autism at the Jacksonville Zoo. More information can be found at www.costumerswithacause.org.
In addition, the 501st Legion, Florida Garrison, has a mission to “Promote interest in Star Wars, to facilitate the use of costumes, and to contribute” (www.501st.com). The 501st Legion is passionate about charity work, as they call themselves “bad guys doing good.” Although the members dress as villains from Star Wars, they put this hobby to good use. During Infinity Con specifically, the 501st Legion helped raise money for Blaze Bedenbaugh, a 13-year-old from Lake City who was diagnosed with a childhood brain cancer.
Princess Leia reading to children at Infinity Con 2017, guarded by Jedi
The convention was made possible by donations from sponsors, by time donated from volunteers, and by revenue generation from vendor fees. However, vendors and staff were not the only ones who found the event to be successful. Many of the visitors traveled hours to attend, and their smiles made it clear that they found the trek to be worthwhile.
Bianca Cori traveled from Gainesville. She stated, “I’m making friends and I’m screaming. I’m seeing all the merchandise and I’m screaming …. There are a lot things you can’t really get anywhere else.” This excitement is everything that led Hancock and Heringer to plan the convention when it was just a dream, and is undoubtedly part of the inspiration to keep dreaming for bigger and better Infinity Cons.