CONfabulation Con 2021: Virtually Entertaining

CONfabulation Con 2021 was held virtually October 22-24, 2021 and provided another great opportunity for fans to connect and celebrate fandom.

Since 2017, CONfabulation Con has held an annual multi-fandom convention for fans to gather and celebrate fandom and fanworks. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the most recent iterations of the convention have been virtual. From Friday, October 22 to Sunday, October 24, the second virtual CONfabulation Con since the start of the pandemic was held. CONfabulation 2021 was structured similarly to other virtual conventions such as Con.Txt 2021 and FanworksCon 2021, with panels hosted on Zoom, discussion expanding panels on Discord, and fan-created virtual convention platform Conline keeping the weekend running smoothly.

As is typical for virtual conventions, Friday evening opened with a casual hangout where fans could come together with discussion and games. One game had volunteers pitching small fandoms to other attendees while another combined the classic games of Telephone and Pictionary. Between the casual discussions and the games, the Zoom hangout proved to be a tried-and-true way to break the ice prior to the panel-heavy Saturday and Sunday.

After Saturday’s opening ceremonies, the panels on Saturday and Sunday were a blend of fanwork, multi-fandom, and single-fandom discussions. Each timeslot had two panels scheduled in two separate Zoom rooms, though attendees could add additional panels to the schedule. The Witcher, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, and The Old Guard were among the fandoms that received their own panels, much of which featured speculation about the newest installments of each that are on the way.

The creation of fanworks was spotlighted in both the dialogue panel and the sound editing panel. Discussion of fanworks continued in a panel that highlighted the appeal of comforting fanworks that contain joy, particularly with the ongoing pandemic and other current world events. On the opposite spectrum, other panels highlighted taboo topics and real person fiction. The discussions in the panels were expanded on each panel’s assigned Discord channel and many of them included additional spreadsheets of fanwork and media recommendations that attendees could add to.

Additional panels included a panel sharing book recommendations, a celebration of fandom’s love of monsters, and a discussion about how the modern-day method of binging media has impacted fandom both positively and negatively. One of the significant panels of the weekend discussed the issues with some of the modern-day attempts to diversify media. Each panel that I was able to attend provided interesting discussions, and it was enjoyable to talk about different aspects of fandom with people and the comfort found in media and fan works.

Unlike previous virtual conventions, the Saturday evening programming was not the fanvid show. Instead, the fanvid show was placed in the afternoon and featured a combination of premieres and classic fanvids. The combination of the two was a creative choice and all the fanvids were well-edited. While many fandoms were represented in the hour-long show, Chinese drama Nirvana in Fire had the biggest presence with three fanvids. Saturday evening concluded with a fandom trivia game, but unfortunately those who simply wanted to observe were not allowed to join the Zoom meeting.

Sunday’s closing allowed the convention’s organizers to discuss the future of CONfabulation Con. The plan is to host the next in-person event in Chicago in 2022, but the ever-changing uncertainty of the future continues to loom over it. The organizers were very open to feedback, and many attendees provided suggestions for a future virtual component of the convention, whether hybrid or separate from the in-person event. There were some interesting suggestions presented, and it remains to be seen what form the next CONfabulation Con will take.

While CONfabulation Con 2021 didn’t break much new ground regarding its structure or content, its familiarity and its celebration of fandom remained comforting and continued to bring fans from all over together. Regardless of what the future for CONfabulation Con holds, it’s reassuring to know that there will still be experiences and opportunities for fans to connect like this and celebrate their love of fandom.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.

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