By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — It’s going to be a stellar year for the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. A new decade is dawning for the annual celebration of all things pop culture and fans and organizers alike are poised to celebrate the event’s first decade in existence. While the present traditionally bestowed upon the occasion of a 10th anniversary are usually comprised of tin or aluminum, the convention’s convivial spokeswoman, Emily Expo, is willing to receive homage in latex and leather in lieu of the typical metallic giftware.
“It’s very exciting to be entering our 10th year,” Emily Expo (a.k.a. Lindsay Thomas) confirms. “The last five years have gone by so quickly, I can hardly believe it. We are all quite awestruck by how big we’ve become.”
Trumped only by New York’s Comic Con in terms of exponential growth, Calgary’s Expo has gone from attracting around 3,000 attendees in its inaugural year to the point where the popular four-day long event is large enough to merit taking over most of the buildings in Stampede Park. Last year’s gate-count placed attendance around 97,000, and by all estimates this year’s event should see over 100,000 fans filtering in through various portals.
“We’ve made some pretty minor adjustments to this year’s layout,” says Emily Expo. “The most significant thing we’ve changed is that, admissions will now be done in the new Agrium Building. The Park really has a fresh new look, and it’s been a fun process figuring out how we can extend our outdoor areas and continue to expand the Expo’s capacity.”
In an effort to mitigate the increase in attendance and improve access to the Expo’s many attractions, the show’s Thursday schedule has been enhanced with one-day only incentives designed to bring the crowds in early.
“In previous years, Thursdays have been sort of a quiet preview of what the weekend has in store. This year we’ve built Thursday up into a fantastic night to go into your Expo experience with. There are going to be exclusive shopping opportunities and a lot artists who are doing special Thursday promotions and appearances. I also encourage everyone to come and check out our Beat the Banker Night at Cowboys in partnership with ATB Financial. People can show off their costumes, answer trivia, and win cool prizes, with all of the proceeds going towards as cause that is near to our hearts, the Nathan O’Brien Foundation.”
Superheroes and sultry villains don’t need an excuse to strut their stuff, before a panel of internationally-acclaimed cosplay experts, as the Expo’s official Costume Contest will kick-off at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. And, if you’re 12 and under, and ready-to-rumble like Finn and Jake, you’d best enroll in the first-ever Kids Costume Showcase the following afternoon. Those who prefer to watch the World of Warcraft go by, should pick their spot along the Expo’s parade route through the city’s core. The POW! Parade of Wonders is set to saunter from Eau Claire Market to Olympic Plaza starting at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 17th.
“Go! Especially, if you haven’t done it before. POW! is an interesting experience,” she says. “It a great partnership with city and I love that Downtown Calgary allowing us to make it happen. It’s wonderful to see how our Parade has brought community together and become a part of Calgary’s culture.”
The crowdsourcing continues with events including the premiere of the Expo’s 48 Hour Geek/Nerd Film Challenge. Teams of registrants will be charged with writing, shooting, editing, and scoring a short film within a two-day window between Friday night and Sunday’s screening and judgement. Additionally, Geek Speed Dating will be making a hopeful return, and the New World Players will treat Boyce Theatre audience members a special evening concert featuring “Intimate Music from FINAL FANTASY.”
With so many celebrity appearances and artist panels available to attend, Emily Expo recommends staying tuned into the Expo’s social media channels to remain abreast of breaking news and last minute scheduling changes.
“Things have really taken off with this massive event, and if there’s one word to describe what we’ve tried to achieve in our programming it’s ‘diversity.’ A show of this size has so many moving parts that anything can happen on a moment’s notice. So, if you’ve got plans to visit specific guests keep an eye on social media to make sure all is going appropriately. We’ve already developed an official app, which will be ready by the time of the Expo. It will assist our fans in keeping track of timeslots and events they want to partake of. Trust me, you won’t want to miss a thing!”
The 10th Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo happens at Stampede Park April 16-19. Click here for our Q&A with Emily Expo.AB, Alberta, Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, Calgary Expo 2015, comics, Emily Expo, entertainment, film, Stampede Park