COVID-19: Europe and North American Convention Updates

Convention Updates

Shout out to our followers who have become active with sending us convention updates. Thanks to you, we have a far wider reach regarding COVID-19 convention impacts. Here are a few more updates for you all.

We’re going to tackle today’s convention updates by region, as both Europe and North America have become larger hot spots than they were back when we began tracking conventions in January. I expect both areas to have even more updates in the coming weeks, though I’m going to limit my outlook to cons coming up this weekend, or cons that have officially made announcements on their own about the status of their con. 

I don’t see these updates stopping any time soon, so I’ll get to more conventions in future updates. If you have a particular con you want me to track, I will definitely put it on my ever-growing list. Just give me a shout and I’ll keep an eye out.

Let’s bounce over to Europe first…

Dublin Comic Con is still happening this weekend, and they’ve made a statement about their commitment to putting on the show. The con starts in just two days, though, and things have been escalating fast in Ireland so I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes suddenly. 

Numerous Saint Patrick’s Day parades have been cancelled, which are far larger than this convention and far more widespread. This could work in favor of the con or against the con. If Ireland cracks down on events of a certain size, this could slip under the radar as we noted with HaruKon in Israel

However, the opposite can also be true, too, where the big events are just the first to fall as they are the most visible, and others may be forced to follow their lead in the coming days from pressure from the government. I don’t have examples of this happening anywhere yet, so take this as personal conjecture on my part. But I could see this being a possible way that some of the smaller regional cons could get axed even without blanket size limit bans.

There are currently 34 confirmed cases in Ireland, for the record.  

Two other conventions in the British Isles this weekend, Leeds Anime & Gaming Con and the London Gaming Market, have made zero announcements about any convention impacts whatsoever. At this point, any conventions of any size happening in hot spots in the next month or so need to make some sort of statement, even if it’s the statement that Dublin Comic Con has made that there are currently no changes at this time.

The United Kingdom as a whole has 382 confirmed cases with six reported deaths, so I would hope large gatherings would start to get cancelled more consistently across the region. The London Book Fair was cancelled, but the above two mentioned events are still carrying on with no chatter through official channels about their status.

I’m not sure what the criteria is for shutting down an event in the United Kingdom at this time. If you know, please toss me a link! As much as I wish I could be the oracle of all COVID-19 convention-related details, I’m sadly not. Your help filling in these knowledge gaps can go a long way to paint a complete picture of the global con circuit’s current situation. 

There are many other conventions happening on mainland Europe the following weekend, but I’m going to hold off exploring them too deeply for now as none of them are acknowledging the current situation besides the ones we’ve noted in our Coronavirus Convention and Theme Park Impacts page. If you know of one, however, you should also drop us a line. Again, I’m not an oracle. But I’m trying. Help me expand my reach.

Now jumping over to North America, which has seen an explosion in confirmed cases (and likely an even bigger explosion in non-confirmed cases), we have several conventions and book fairs with updates as well as a few that seem to be charging forward without any change in plans at all.

The first con in North America that I want to discuss is Genericon in Troy, New York, which was scheduled for March 21st. This one day con has been cancelled based on a discussion with their University administration. The staff released the following statement on their website

Hello all, our Admin Staff for Genericon have been in discussions with the RPI administration and after much thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel Genericon 33 (2020) due to the health risk posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Given the information available, we believe that hosting Genericon would be a major health risk to both the campus and our attendees. The RPI administration is strongly advising the cancellation of all events that would have more than 50 people. We are expecting RPI to issue a statement soon with more information.

We will be refunding all pre-registration tickets and application fees via Eventbrite. We deeply regret not being able to host Genericon this year, but we believe the safety concerns are too great. We’re planning to use this extra time to make next year’s Genericon even better. We’re also looking into bringing back Betacon in the Fall.

Genericon is a long-running convention, heading into their 33rd year with this year’s event, but it’s on the smaller end of the convention spectrum. That said, any events with more than 50 people have been advised to cancel their events in their area, which is far smaller than the restrictions put in place in Israel that let HaruKon slip by without disruption. 

It’s unfortunate to see a small, long-running, community focused convention get dinged by such a low number attendee restriction, but New York has quickly become one of the hottest spots in the country, so it’s understandable. I applaud both the convention staff and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute administration for making this incredibly hard decision. It’s great to see people taking it seriously, even when it hurts like this.

Now skipping down to West Virginia, HerdCon has also announced that their event is being cancelled. Their one-day pop culture convention was scheduled for Saturday March 14th at Marshall University in Huntington Virginia, but out of an ‘abundance of caution,’ they’ll be pulling the plug on their event too, with the possibility of it happening at a later date. 

Due to an abundance of caution relating to the highly contagious nature of the current Covid-19 virus, we are postponing HerdCon until a later date. More details to follow regarding refunds and planning for HerdCon 2021.

And yet another University-based con, KeikenCon, also scheduled for March 14th, was to take place at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. They have also chosen to postpone their event and made the following statement on their Twitter account:

Over the last year, our fantastic team of student leaders and faculty advisors have worked tirelessly to create an inspirational and unforgettable anime convention here at Rowan University. We have organized an incredible array of panelists, events, and performers, and as a result, we were expecting a huge crowd of enthusiastic and creative anime friends traveling from far and wide to KeikenCon.

Unfortunately, due to the recent appearance of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on the east coast, we have decided to get ahead of the situation and temporarily postpone KeikenCon 2020.

As a student-run organization (the Rowan University Anime Club), we have independently made this decision due to our personal concerns over community spread of the coronavirus, that our event is a fundraiser for families dealing with childhood cancer, and that we love and care very deeply for all of you – our anime friends, family, and supporters. We have a lot of folks who purchased tickets online or made donations to the Emmanuel Children’s Cancer Foundation, so it will take us a couple days to process all the refunds.

Our celebration of everything anime must go on, and we are happy to let you know that we have already started the planning to reschedule KeikenCon 2020 sometime in September. So, over the next few months, gather up your creative spirits and create something wonderful, stay tuned and connected to our social media, and we will see you in September.

If you have questions or concern, or just want to reach out to say HELLO, please don’t hesitate to message us.

So that’s three college focused one-day cons that were pro-active and decided to cancel or delay their events. Good job, students! Again, I’m applauding the pro-active approach that seems to be coming mostly from University campuses. A lot of Universities around the country have cancelled classes altogether or moved over to online courses, so they are generally ahead of the curve on this topic.

Also, on the east coast, we have ACE Comic Con, which two of our writers plan on attending in just a couple of weeks. There are technically no new updates besides the one we made a week ago about the ‘touch-free’ policies. However, there are a few unofficial things to note. 

First and foremost, a lot of fans have begun chatting about it and asking official channels for any updates, of which there are apparently none. The growing chatter may eventually become harder to ignore for con organizers, so I suspect they may have more to say on it soon as a result.

Second, Massachusetts has generally begun to take steps to limit large gatherings, going as far as cancelling the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which is one of the biggest ones in the country. There does not seem to be a defined number of people that would lead to a cancellation, as statements from public officials seem to indicate this was a very targeted decision against this specific event. There doesn’t seem to be a blanket gathering ban at this time.

Over on the west coast, the LA Times Festival of Books has been postponed. The event, scheduled to take place in April, has been pushed back to October 3rd-4th. California is currently under a state of emergency, so this makes sense. While most of the confirmed cases are up north in the Bay Area, I don’t at all blame them for taking the statewide emergency declaration seriously and being pro-active.

And in other book fair news, the Tuscon Book Fair has also been canned. Over 100 authors cancelled on the event, which draws over 100,000 people to the University of Arizona campus. While there are ‘only’ 6 cases in Arizona, that seems to be enough to take action, and I’m all here for that type of pro-activate responses to this situation. 

We need to be pro-active, not reactive. If they waited until it was confirmed to be bad there, it may be too late. Honestly, more events outside of hot spots should probably follow suit. It’s just the smart thing to do.

In a slightly different kind of convention news, RuPaul’s DragCon LA has been axed. While DragCon isn’t something we’ve ever personally attended, we’ve been covering the show quite a bit and feel it’s worth noting. 

It’s also worth noting that this con was scheduled for way out in May, showing that the convention impacts are stretching further and further down the line. We’ll be keeping our eyes on the biggies in both April and May now as a result.

They’ve made the following statement regarding their cancellation

DragCon’s first priority is always the health and safety of everyone involved and we’ve been actively tracking the situation around the coronavirus. The situation in California (and the world) is rapidly changing, with new information coming out everyday.

Unfortunately, there’s no way for anyone to know what the situation will be like in May. Due to that uncertainty, and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided that it’s in the best interest of the talent, staff, and attendees to cancel RuPaul’s DragCon LA 2020.

DragCon LA will return in 2021, better than ever.

We will be working with Eventbrite to issue refunds over the next 7 days.

If there’s another con out there with big news that I’ve missed, drop me a line. No matter how big or small. I want to hear about it!

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She's contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She's written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

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