By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – If the old adage is to be believed, you should “never meet your heroes.” But for fans of the fastest growing comic convention in North America, that saying could not be further from the truth. Attracting over 100,000 people in 2016, Calgary’s annual Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA Calgary Expo) engulfs Stampede Park and transmogrifies those hallowed stomping grounds into a multimedia playground that is truly a spectacle to behold. It’s not the first space rodeo for Calgary Expo’s spokeswoman and mascot, Emily Expo, but she promises that 2017’s four day run of fandom will offer up a star-studded affair that will be the highlight of your terrestrial orbit.
“The last couple of years have been huge for us and we keep trying to present an even better experience for our attendees,” says Emily Expo. “At the moment the focus isn’t so much on size as improving the quality of the event for all. Making sure that there is something for everyone and trying to make sure that everything is well organized and goes smoothly from an operational perspective.”
Engaging with a public that has so embraced all of its colourful components, Calgary Expo has swelled beyond the scope of a self-contained entity and has extended its tendrils into the very core of the City.
“I am quite proud of us as an organization for putting on the Parade of Wonders!, which happens on the Friday morning of each Expo,” she explains. “To have all these cosplayers, and the nerds, and the geeks, and the fans parading through downtown Calgary, and showing their pride in this show that started with 3,000 people in 2006, is really quite an accomplishment! The route is a little bit different year. We start at 8th and 8th and we still wind-up at Olympic Plaza, but due to the growth of the event and how big it is it has become a little too disruptive and we don’t want to annoy people with what we’re doing. We want to create a community thing that everybody can come and enjoy, so we worked with the City to develop a new route.”
Back on the grounds, where the Calgary Expo occupies 450,000 square feet dedicated to the arts of gaming, shopping, and celebrity-worship, it’s all too easy to lose all sense of direction and monetary prudence. But thanks to the Expo’s handy phone app, Calgary cadets are less likely to miss their window of opportunity to land amongst the stars.
“We had an app last year and we revamp it every year, as things change and develop. So, we’ll have that again this year for people who want it. It is really useful for keeping track of your schedule, especially if you’re into panels and photo ops.”
Aside from a one-off concert appearance by James Marsters at the Expo’s official After Party, the lynchpin in this year’s special programing is an appearance by the comic book culture’s middle-aged poster boy, Kevin Smith. Known for his directorial triumphs (and flops) as well as his podcasting career, and television show “Comic Book Men,” Smith will be joined by his partner in rhyme, Jay Mewes (AKA Jay), for a separately-ticked event called “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old” on April 29 at the Stampede Corral.
“I’m also super excited for Kevin Smith, because I’ve seen every movie he’s ever done and I’m a huge Jay and Silent Bob fan. I’m looking forward to hearing his stories and seeing him on stage with Jason Mewes. I think that’ll be a fantastic event. Although, definitely for a more mature audience, and not recommended for the kids. I am sure most people are aware. If you’re at all familiar with Kevin’s brand of humour, you’ll know what to expect.”
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo runs from April 27-30 at Stampede Park.Calgary Expo 2017, comic expo, Stampede Park