I've been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy for as long as I can remember, starting with animated television shows and later moving to reading books and playing games (in the broadest sense). I run a D&D group with several coworkers, occasionally play Warhammer 40K, and paint miniatures for both. And finally, I'm working on two fantasy novels right now. So it's fair to say that Science Fiction and Fantasy are a significant part of my life. But despite this, I had never visited a Science Fiction or Fantasy festival or conference.
That is, until last Saturday. After running for 10 years without having ever visited it, I finally went to see the Elf Fantasy Fair
. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I had seen pictures of previous events of course, but nothing quite prepares you for the actual experience. The fun started at the parking lot, where a group of people in Steampunk attire were parked almost next to us. The walk to the castle grounds was no less entertaining, with a clawed "dark lord" style figure walking just in front of us, and a couple of people with less elaborate costumes (limited to a wizard hat, some robes, and a fairy dog familiar). I was dressed normally, which made me feel oddly out of place along all the richly dressed visitors.
But the parking lot was nothing compared to the actual fair. The newspapers reported over 25000 visitors over the course of two days, and I think that's accurate. The stalls were quite crowded during the afternoon, though things got a bit more manageable later on. I could probably spend all week describing the various costumes and sights I saw, but I probably wouldn't be doing them justice.
Seeing all these people involved in all sorts of Fantasy-related activities is a really strong motivator, as well as an inspiring experience. Whatever lack of motivation might have been troubling me for the past few weeks has been thoroughly dispelled.
As for next year? I'll probably visit again.