FOTF Community: Ratha Con 2018

Ratha Con is Athens, Ohio’s only Pop Culture Convention and is gearing up for it’s 7th year…

To kick off our new community section, I caught up with Alyse Carter at Ratha Con to discuss the convention’s upcoming event, one in which our very own Elven Padawan will be making a guest appearance…

Elyse on how it all began…

“Ratha Con had a pretty humble and pure start! The first director of ARTS/West, Emily Prince, and our current Convention Director, Kelly Lawrence, decided to have a convention so they could hang with their fellow nerds, simple as that!  (ARTS/West is an Athens community arts center which is under the city of Athens Arts, Parks and Rec Department).  Emily and Kelly went to what was then called Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus 8 years ago to get ideas and decided to run their own. The name was coined by early committee member, Sam Berlin.”

The motivation behind the event and how it has evolved over the years…

“Originally, we thought we would be a con that focused on celebrity guests, like most other cons do. But we’ve really evolved into to a convention that concentrates on the artists – comic, visual, crafts, and cosplay. The celebrities and activities are still there and help get people excited about our con but the art is the central theme. We really try to highlight and focus on artists that are more local. We have a big variety of artists from many places but you will find the majority of them are from the Ohio/ West Virginia/ Kentucky area. We have grown to include a lot more focus on families – including your kids; Most cons don’t seem to try as hard as we do to include the young fans. We’ve also moved out from under our parent organization, ARTS/West, and have become an independent non-profit organization as of 2018, although we still work closely with both ARTS/West and the Parks and Rec department.”

On why local conventions are important for the community…

“Local cons are immensely important because of the exposure, networking opportunities, and social opportunities they provide to both the attendees and the artists/ vendors/ guests. At a big con, you might meet hundreds of people, but you aren’t going to make as many personal connections. Our artists hang out with each other, they trade cards with vendors, they discuss their books at length with attendees. Our guests recruit each other for other cons or trade phone numbers so they can work on projects together later. There isn’t as much of a rushed feeling to see and do everything like you have in a huge convention center. You can stroll around and take it all in and make friends! I have been to a lot of cons, both big and small, and while they are all great, there is just a different atmosphere at local cons.”

Naturally with any con, the big question is always ‘Who’s been your favourite guest?’…

“Favorite guest is a hard one! We have had a lot of fantastic people come through in the last few years, including Russ Emanuel, a director from California, whose film “Occupants” has been collecting an impressive list of awards, and our good friend and recurring guest John Pkya (AKA Big Daddy Cool) who has been an absolute delight to have performing magic tricks, his stage show and is an outstanding cosplay contest EmCee! Although my personal favorite was in 2016 when John Marks, a prop builder, brought a life-size Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon that took up several booth spaces and you could climb up and sit on! That was definitely an impressive sight, and a fan favorite!”

So, what’s new for 2018?

“We’ve been working very hard to make 2018 the best Ratha Con yet! We have a packed schedule of events and some great new guests this year as well. Our headlining guests are Jake Kearney, who plays a savior on the current season of The Walking Dead, and Charles Urbach, who is an illustrator for Magic the Gathering as well as several other games. Of course, we have an impressive line up of 40+ artists, authors, vendors, and crafters. In addition to 11 panels, workshops, and presentations over topics ranging from comic creation to how to become a successful youtube personality, some new events this year include live music performances on stage, video game tournaments, tabletop RPG games, cosplay photoshoots, and a convention-wide scavenger hunt. We will also have our kids craft room again this year, our annual Quidditch tournament, a kids costume contest, and a multi-tiered cosplay contest for competitors of all skill levels! Lastly, two of the biggest additions this year are our pre-convention party, Nerd Prom, and our after-party, Cosmic Costumed Bowling!”

Finally, what’s in store for future cons?

“As much as we would love to see our convention grow and grow and become a huge con with A-list celebrities, I think for the most part we are content with who we are and what we are. We have really hit our stride in the last few years and we have a very diverse and talented planning committee who are enthusiastic and totally passionate about Ratha Con and about Athens.  Although we have been brainstorming about bigger venues or extending out to a two-day con, nothing has been set in stone yet.  We love being able to have this event that brings our geeky community together, and we love to be able to feature our local artists and make those personal connections and friendships, without worrying too much about paying outrageous appearance fees and figuring out where everyone is going to park! We truly love our town and we love our con, and although we do continue to steadily grow, it is our sincere hope to keep providing a local, small-town con where people can come to make friends, feel at home, have a great time and geek out!”

As you can see, Ratha Con is gearing up to be their biggest yet and a must for all Athens residents!

You can find out more about Ratha Con on their website – www.therathacon.com, or by finding them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

You can find the official facebook event for 2018 here – https://www.facebook.com/events/1970660639927618/

They also have facebook events created for Nerd Prom and the convention after-party as well, just check out ther main facebook page for all three events.

Don’t forget, if you’d like us to feature your event, or work… get in touch with me at fotf.community@sam-thomas.com or @samppthomas on Twitter.

 

The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.

Sam Thomas

Writer, Artist and Educator. I write about anything and everything for www.thefutureoftheforce.com

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