This past weekend saw a brand new convention, Sci-Con Tampa, open its doors to the public and host an amazing collection of guests that helped make the weekend a grand event for all who attended! Sci-Con itself took place in Tampa Florida’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, with celebrity guests such as Richard Hatch, Nicki Clyne, Aron Eisenberg, Jack Stauffer, Story Musgrave, Lolita Fatjo, Dawn DuVurger, William Hatfield, Rick Stafford and Freya Folkvangr, Bruce Carr, Robert B. Westerfield and myself, Tye Bourdony.
A very big and special thanks also needs to go to Eugene and Renee Haggerty, as well as Steven Elliot and Mina Frannea, along with all of the other staff, volunteers, and vendors of Sci-Con Tampa, as these folks worked tirelessly to make sure that the con was run for the benefit of the fans! For me, Sci-Con Tampa was all about celebrating Sci-Fi, the many panels I attended and the friends I reconnected with, just as much as it was about meeting the new friends I made.
While the many of the convention’s media guests were Battlestar Galactica related, Star Trek, Cosplay, science fiction writing, art and many amazing vendors were also represented. The staff and promoters at this convention are also all fans just like the con attendees and the one thing they understood unwaveringly was just how important the fan experience and perspective is! Everything about Sci-Con Tampa was done with the fans in mind and the one thing a fan could count on as they left Sci-Con Tampa, was the personal one on one experience and accessibility this up and coming convention offered to each and every attendee.
Saturday night left me most impressed as I had the rare opportunity to go to a Japanese hibachi steak house for dinner with many of the convention’s headlining guests, including Richard Hatch and Jack Stauffer (both classic Battlestar Galactica alumni) whom traditionally go out for hibachi whenever they do a convention together. The dinner was full of good food, a lot of fun, great conversation and quite a few toasts, which were followed by an evening of exciting dancing at the conventions masquerade party. While I would say that I had some pretty amazing dance moves that evening, it was actually fellow guest, Dawn and Ian DuVurger’s seven year old son who stole the show as he danced the night away with the reimagined Galactica’s Nicki Clyne and so many other willing dance partners that night. That little guy was that good!!!
I also attended amazing panels such as Rick Stafford and Freya Folkvangr‘s Fitness Geekery panel in which both well-known and professional cosplayers talked about ways in which fans can work on both being a geek, while at the same time staying healthy at conventions as well as in life generally. I also had the pleasure of sitting in on Richard Hatch, Jack Stauffer and Nicki Clyne’s panel about all things Battlestar Galactica, along with Sundays panel in which the convention attendees were able to listen to NASA astronaut and all around Renaissance-Man, Story Musgrave, talk about his long and stellar career.
But the most amazing convention experience was having the privilege of sitting in on Richard Hatch’s Acting Workshop. This panel was so much more than simply listening to an actor speak on acting itself, as Richard touched on very personal and life related topics which when seen through the lens of an actor and those emotions an actor must learn to call on, both from within as well as from outside of his or herself, can help lead to very powerful growth, self-awareness and empowerment. To be quite blunt, I was simply blown away by my boyhood hero’s words of wisdom and the ways in which his life’s journey has lead him to a place of fulfillment, satisfaction and personal revelation.
So by the end of the show, my sci-fi convention circuit buddy of fifteen years (WOW has it really been that long?), Shawn O’Donnell, who also happens to be the Battlestar Galactica Fan Club President and co-promoter of Galacticon, turned to me and said, “This is that part of the convention when you start to feel bad about having to say good bye.” And in essence it is this sentiment of not wanting the show to end that best catorgorizes a good convention for me, which Sci-Con Tampa was in spades and I look forward to this convention becoming one of those yearly events that we all look forward to attending. So Say We All!!!
Written by: Tye Bourdony