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Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

My experience at Atlanta's Dragon Con 2022

Dragon Con is an annual convention held in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. It began in 1987 and has evolved to be one of the “largest multi-media, popular culture convention(s) focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the universe,” according to its website

For the first time in four years, I had the privilege of attending Dragon Con. Although the convention lasts Thursday through Monday, I did my best to ensure I was making the most of my time Saturday and Sunday. 

I have been cosplaying since I attended my first convention in 2016. It is one of the most fun parts of going to conventions, as I love seeing people show off their elaborate costumes of some of my favorite characters, some of which take months to make. I decided to cosplay as Raven from Teen Titans on Saturday and Blair from Soul Eater on Sunday. 

Dawn of the First Day: 

I began by spending about 2 hours putting on my Raven costume. Upon putting on the pleather, long-sleeved bodysuit, I knew my day would be exceptionally uncomfortable, as it was 82° that day.

“Beauty is pain,” I told myself and continued on to the convention center with my cousin.

After arriving at the Sheridan Hotel, we picked up our badges and ran straight to the AmericasMart building where the Artists Gallery was. Unfortunately, there was a line about three blocks long that also wrapped inside a parking garage. We knew our number one priority was getting to see the 300+ exhibitors, so we braved the line and heat for about 40 minutes.

Upon entering the air-conditioned haven, we found the vendors and spent about two hours weaving in and out of the different rows of stalls, admiring all the different exhibitors and their crafts. One of our favorites was Silver Leaf Costumes, which made beautiful quality corsets, dresses, vests and skirts. I purchased a $15 horror mystery bag from a jewelry vendor called Figments and Fripperies that contained a beautiful horror-themed necklace, hairclip, and keychain. 

It was around this time that I ran into Mo Baldwin ‘22, a fellow Mercerian and cosplayer. He was dressed as a bard and explained to me that he and his family had been a part of the Dragon Con parade earlier in the day.

“The parade was a good time, the turnout seemed smaller than in past years but there was still a good crowd,” Baldwin said.

Wanting a break from walking around, my cousin and I decided to grab lunch at a food stand called Jalepeño Corndog Concessions, paying $17 for some pretty standard chicken tenders and tater tots. I took a minute to grieve for my wallet.

After finishing checking out the vendors, I met up with my friend Evan Koenigs, a student at Georgia Film Academy. I dragged my cousin all the way to the Marriot Marquis hotel where there was a bar and DJ, as well as a group of people surrounding outstandingly accurate replicas of different droids, such as WALL-E and R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars. 

After Koenigs showed up in cosplay of "the Marshal," from The Mandalorian we went on a wild goose chase for about 30 minutes, an unsuccessful mission resulting in a missed photoshoot opportunity and sore feet. Exhausted, we parted ways and agreed to meet up the next day.

Dawn of the Second Day: 

I dressed in my less hot but more cumbersome Blair cosplay and headed to the convention to meet up with Koenigs. We promptly made our way to the Marriot to check and see if he had made it into the finals of the big Star Wars Trivia competition. To our surprise, he placed fifth and made it into the final round, competing against Alex Damon, host of his own Star Wars-themed YouTube Channel, Star Wars Explained. 

“I was not as sober as I would have liked to be for the qualifying test, but I’m ready for the final!” Koenigs said. 

After taking some time to revel in his success, we decided to briefly split up while I went to an ASL-friendly Q&A panel for the Walking Dead, where I got to hear from some of the cast members: Chad Coleman, Katelyn Nacon, Chandler Riggs, and Lauren Ridloff. 

An audience member asked Ridloff, a deaf actress who plays Connie in The Walking Dead and Makkari in Eternals, if she took home any of the things she learned while playing Connie in the show.

“For my first zombie kill, actually, I had to step on the head. So, I learned that it’s almost like stepping on a watermelon,” Ridloff signed in ASL. Good for everyone to know for any future zombie apocalypse we may have. 

After the panel, Koenigs and I reunited and decided to go to the game room in AmericasMart to paint some miniature figurines. I painted a tiny green goblin - who I have named Wart - and he painted a sea captain. 

To finish off the day, we made our way to the Star Wars Trivia Finale, where Koenigs bravely faced off against seven other competitors, including previously mentioned YouTuber, Star Wars Explained. Although he was nervous at first, he rose above the competition and placed second!

Overall, my experience at the 2022 Dragon Con was eventful, exhausting, and exciting. My favorite part was cosplaying and getting stopped by other attendees and photographers to take pictures throughout the day, which I always love! I could not have asked for a more rewarding experience. 


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