Sci-fi and fantasy festival coming to South Shore

New event planned for June

Prepare to see some unusual sights on Liverpool’s streets from June 12 to 14 as characters from comic books and sci-fi shows, “Walking Dead” wannabes and fantasy fans take over the town.

The SouSho Sci-Fi and Fantasy Festival, a new comic convention, is coming to the South Shore. It will hold its first event at Queens Place Emera Centre, the Best Western Liverpool and Hank Snow Community Park over the spring weekend. Both locals and tourists are invited to participate.

“I want people to experience how it was when I went to my first con – how exciting it was to see all these swords and people just so excited to read comics,” said Catherine Croft who went to her first comic con as an 18-year-old Nova Scotian living in Calgary.

She, along with Jessica Van Dyne-Evans, a fellow Mill Village resident, is one of SouSho’s directors, and they, along with invested community partners, saw the potential opportunity this destination event offered to boost the area’s economy.

“The sci-fi life, the fantasy, the geek culture, the gaming, it’s all very new and exciting right now, and that’s, of course, what we’re capitalizing on,” said Ms Croft.

“With the massive jobs losses, we’ve been hit down here on the South Shore. There’s not much other revenue to come in here other than tourism, so that’s what we’re working on, and that’s why we decided to have the comics convention,” said Ms Croft.

The town’s community school and paper mill both closed in recent years.

The event’s logo and mascot is a sea dragon named Sho. The logo, and the name itself, represent the area playing host to the event, a place the organizers are very proud of.

“Our goal is to help our community. We want to give our neighbours an event to enjoy and call their own, while at the same time helping local business by providing a tourist attraction,” the event’s directors said in a press release.

The comic convention will commence with a parade on Liverpool’s main streets. A Hyundai Tuscan, the “Walking Dead” edition, will be followed by costumed characters and local government figures, members of KAG Kanada and celebrity guests such as John Paladin, Robert O’Reilly, J.G. Hertzler and Brian Connor.

Nerd-Halla will then open. Ticket holders will have the chance to play kids’ games; have fun in an 80s arcade; hear panels; view demonstrations, displays, skits and plays; watch interactive movies; engage in cosplay; undergo Jedi training; and support local artists and vendors.

There will also be an art and short-story competition; a self-esteem seminar for teen girls, live action role playing (LARP), Magic card games and much more.

“We wanted to make SouSho completely different from other cons, which means it’s not just for 20 year olds and up; its also for family,” said Croft.

“That’s our demographic here now.”

Companies sponsoring the event include Best Western Liverpool, White Point Lodge, Lanes Privateer Inn, O’Regan’s Hyundai and Wilkies Wonderful World.

KAG Kanada, a nationwide fan-base association of volunteers who appreciate science fiction and are influenced by “Star Trek” writer Gene Roddenberry’s vision, regularly participates in events like these and has helped with SouSho’s development. It also regularly donates to charity and participates in fundraising events. This has inspired SouSho to donate any profits to the Queens County Food Bank.

SouSho’s directors will be promoting this event with a free comic day. They will visit local schools in Queens County with Sho, giving out thousands of free comics to kids in hopes of inspiring them to read and use their imaginations.

“I want to pass on my love of gaming to my kids, my love of comics to my children, instead of just a computer. You know, pick up the pages, look at the illustrations, look at the artwork, read the stories,” said Croft.

The group also has a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for advertising, marketing and bringing in special guests.

Croft previously helped organize a smaller con at the school, called May the Fourth Be With You Weekend, as well as a drive-in showing of the “Star Wars” trilogy.

As originally published in the LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin.

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