Thousands punch their tickets for the Calgary Expo
Fans of comics, science fiction, fantasy and everything in between packed Stampede Park for the first full day of the Calgary Expo, a convention that has been growing since it first appeared in 2006.
Lindsay Thomas, spokesperson for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, says that the parade on Friday was ‘amazing’ and had grown significantly since last year.
“We had over 4,000 people participate; we had over 17,000 people watch. The mayor did a tremendous job as he always does as our parade marshal.”
Now that the show is in full swing, Thomas says that she’s had a lot of positive feedback about how things are going. She says that the city has really embraced the event, the second largest like it in Canada.
“Year after year they are getting into the whole culture and community of it and with that comes a lot of passion, a lot of people talking to their friends and getting them to come and word of mouth and great things like that.”
One of the main features of the Expo is its featured guests and Anthony Daniels, better known as C-3PO from the Star Wars universe, was among those invited to appear in the show this year.
He says that the show provides him with a great opportunity to meet with Star Wars fans as well as aficionados of all other sorts of series.
“I don’t come to many Expos like this but maybe I should more and more because the energy you get from the fans of all sorts of genres, not just Star Wars, but just all sorts of stuff that I have never heard of and never seen. You see people really getting into it, getting involved and dressing up.”
Daniels says that the biggest thrill he gets from appearing at conventions is seeing all three generations of Star Wars fans together.
“It’s great that there are now three generations of Star Wars fans, grandparents, parents and now the kids. One of the cute things is when the grandparents say to the little kids, ‘this is C-3PO’ and they’re looking at some old guy with gray hair.”
He adds that he’s been to Calgary about three or four times now and he is glad to come whenever he’s invited.
“You have great restaurants and I’ve only been here in good weather so, hey, I’m lucky.”
Science fiction and comics aren’t the only things on the plate at Stampede Park this weekend either. Stephanie Harvey, a professional gamer, was also invited to make an appearance.
She says that playing video games competitively has made a huge leap from when obsessive gaming was something that was frowned upon into something where you could actually score quite a bit of coin.
“I started competing about 15 years ago. So, I am one of the veterans and have been a pro gamer for 13 of those 15 years,” she says. “Now it’s completely mainstream, it’s everywhere. There’s a lot of money to be made and it’s honestly my full-time job and I never would have expected that 20 years ago.”
She says that, being a woman in the industry, she is still a minority in what she does but things are starting to change.
“It’s something that’s starting to change and has a diverse field of people with different genders and background, everything that there can be.”
Thomas says that the future of the Expo is still focused on providing the best show possible rather than making it bigger and bigger every year.
“We have taken over all of BMO and of course we have the Big Four. It will depend on how things go and how floor plans change and all those logistical type things but the big key of it is to try and make the show better year after year and not necessarily bigger. You want the experience to be a quality experience for the people who come through our doors.”
The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo runs until Sunday at Stampede Park. For full details of guests and schedules, you can go to the official website.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin)