A Middle Earth Renaissance.... - RingCon: A Gathering of the Clans in Middle Earth Review by Julia McGee
Thanks to Julia McGee, LOTR fan and mellon, for writing this review!
Ringcon Tacoma was located just under an hour from Seattle Washington and I have to say it was probably one of the better cons I've ever been to. The size was very cozy and though small, in no way did it lack in quality of vendors, guests and events, but instead seemed to be a high concentration of talents and entertainment so one could feel there was always something worth doing, but not so much so that you felt like you were missing out on something.
Besides the scheduled forums teaching Tengware, Sindarin, writing and publishing and the like, there was always something festive going on for those just strolling through in their Middle-earth and Ren Faire costumes. Artists demonstrated their skill in sculpting and painting and game masters presented Lord of the Rings Role Playing battles. And with continual period music and dancing in the lobby and puppet shows and trivia upstairs in the loft, I even heard other guests in the hotel commenting on how they felt as though they were visiting another realm.
Dinner with the actors on Friday night was relaxing and casual, providing attendees a comfortable opportunity to approach and converse with Craig Parker (Haldir), Bruce Hopkins (Gamling) and Jorn Benzon (Rúmil and a host of other extra characters). It was also a great chance for the fans to meet each other either to form new friendships, meet up with those they had known from forums on line or, in some cases, come out of lurking on the boards and meet those they had been watching for months. Many pictures were taken and gifts exchanged and after the dinner the celebrities entertained a few invitations to parties held in the upper rooms of the hotel for an even more intimate gathering and fellowship.
The one on one, question and answers and autograph times were also a great time with Craig's sweet generosity and witty charm, Bruce's animated story telling and gift of 'hamming it up', and Jorn's kind spirit and warm smile, everyone seemed to be enjoying every moment of the entertaining interaction.
But this convention wasn't just about the Tolkien books and Jackson movies, it had a great flavor of Renaissance Faire mixed in. The Seattle Knights started each morning off with a huge dose of laughter as they performed mock battles among slap stick and typical hardy Ren Faire comedy. And all along the hallways con attendees could find either hands on crafts such as making fairy wings or jewelry or fortune tellers and tarot card reading.
The highlight of the convention had to be the party on Saturday evening. From the first musical set after the good natured audience judged costume contest, the dancefloor was full of participants dressed in Middle-earth and fantasy attire. Even the actors donned leather costumes from Ravenswood Leather and joined in the fun. There was a dragon, fairies, hobbits, dwarves, elves, ringwraiths, a few Eowyn's, one of the Valor and even an Entwife and a Satyr.
As with any con, not all that was meant to happen went without a hitch. But with the professionalism and flexibility of the con coordinator Ron Cleveland and his dedicated staff, panels were switched and rooms were rearranges as need be to smoothly accommodate any last minute changes with little to no notice by the guests.
There was talk of more such Ringcon conventions being held in this area and I would highly recommend anyone able to go to consider attending. I traveled cross country from Philadelphia and have to say it was well worth the trip.