The Con Report: Ba-Con 2011

Artist Jennifer Powell-Pincetti of On-Call Artistry demonstrates how to make an extra-crispy zombie. Photo by Sarah Hans

Columbus, Ohio is a favorite spot for conventions. The city hosts a number of cons dedicated to science fiction, gaming, and writing, but never before has it hosted a convention solely dedicated to geeks, technology…or bacon.

Enter Ba-Con, the lovechild of a small, hard-working group of Columbus natives who wanted to deliver a new kind of convention to Central Ohio. The creators of Ba-Con wanted to do something different, something rarely seen even in a town awash with conventions: performances, presentations by experts, and a lavish consuite featuring delicacies like—you guessed it—bacon.

And they succeeded.

The Guest of Honor roll read like a Who’s Who of geek culture: Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda of the popular web series Chad Vader; Jada C. Brazil-Williams, gaming expert and author of A Geek’s Guide to Bacon Cookery; webcomic writer/artist James Hatton of In His Likeness; Dr. Robert Pyatt, Weird Science expert; and well-known filk performer Tom Smith.

The light-hearted tone for the event was set on Friday night with a short, lively opening ceremony hosted by Dr. Pyatt, and featuring a song (The Trans Poly U) by Smith. Then audiences were delighted by the geek-themed humor of Vincent Holiday, Mike Canestaro, Travis Clyburn, Karl Spaeth, and Butch Wesley in a programming stroke of genius. How many conventions have you been to with a geek comedy night?

Daytime events were technology-themed, with presentations by experts on the gaming industry, photography, Neurolinguistic Programming, 3D printing, ham radio, locksport, forensics, robotics, hacking, and weird science. One topic particularly popular among the ladies was makeup application, with artist Jennifer Powell-Pincelli of On-Call Artistry providing two separate primers: one for beauty makeup and one for effective zombie makeup. Presentations for DIY-lovers included beading buckyballs, writing web comics, and making your own prosthetic appliances. The artists of local favorite BigStyle Productions contributed artistic demonstrations throughout the convention on topics ranging from Nerf gun modding to wire art and chain mail.

The talented dancers of Chandara Gamal’s Bellydance Columbus troupe were a highlight of the convention. One bellydancer took her art to a geeky new level, dancing in the ultra-sexy Slave Leia costume we all remember from Return of the Jedi. Saturday night also featured a dance with DJ Brian Frankart spinning upbeat electonic music. And, of course, we can’t forget the Barfleet party featuring bacon-infused vodka!

The steampunk presence at Ba-Con was noticeable but not overpowering, with members of the Airship Archon presenting panels on costuming, creating personas, and multi-cultural influences in steampunk. Alex Bandar of the Columbus Idea Foundry also presented a talk about how to create steampunk art.  On Saturday steampunk cosplayers could be spotted wandering the halls, and the dealer room featured steampunk vendors Got Steam? and Draconas Creations, as well as the NeoVictorian jewelry of Oh So Fine, Inc.

Ba-Con is a small, new convention, so its attendance was fairly low and mostly comprised of locals—but from the expert-filled programming, busy dealer room, gaming hall, and well-appointed consuite you would never have known it! This convention is definitely one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets and not to be missed next year!