ARCHON is gearing up for a sold-out event at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville

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COLLINSVILLE — After being canceled in 2020 and heavily modified last year, ARCHON 45, the region’s premier sci-fi/fantasy convention, is set to get back into full swing starting Friday at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville.

The convention, or “con,” begins at 10 a.m. on Friday and continues through Sunday afternoon.

It had been canceled in 2020 and a scaled down event in 2020, including the cancellation of a number of popular events including the Masquerade, a costume contest with participants ranging from children to costume professionals with entries meticulously staged.

Normally the event attracts around 2,000 people, but that was around half of last year.

“We’re pretty excited,” co-chairman Alan DeVaughan said. “It’s more our normal ARCHON with everything we usually do.”

He said losing last year’s Masquerade was tough, but it would have created too many problems.

“It was not feasible,” he said. “We couldn’t find a way to do the masquerade the way we wanted and keep everyone safe.”

He said it might be a little smaller than 2019, but it will “definitely be a really good show.” They also brought back dances and a late-night screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“I know a lot of people are excited about this,” he added.

Costumes have always been a big part of the convention. DeVaughan said this year it’s hard to say which will be the most popular.

“There are some great series on TV,” he said. “‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘House of Dragons’, and I think there’s a lot of excitement about the new Doctor (Who) who is set to be revealed this week.”

Panels and workshops range from the serious to the silly, including “Indiana Jones and the Golden AARP Card: Long Term Action Franchises” and “They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” to “Bad Science in Hollywood” and “Religion and its Place in Science Fiction and Fantasy”.

ARCHON started out as a literary convention, but has grown into a general “con” with programming ranging from costumes and cosplay to literature and social issues.

The convention features a number of “tracks,” including costumes, games, merchandise, an art exhibit, authors, and various workshops and panel discussions. Workshops and breakout sessions range from hands-on, fan-based writing across multiple genres from science fiction and fantasy, to history and social science.

There’s also an entirely separate kids’ track, including how to make duct tape armor, costume contests, and games.

A major draw is various “guests of honor” from various fields.

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce is guest of honour. She writes historical fantasies, mysteries and ghost stories for young readers and “advanced and old readers” that are inspired by real places and past cultures, usually with magical elements.

The guest artist of honor is R. Cat Conrad, an award-winning fantasy artist who has been drawing and painting professionally since the 1970s.

While generally family-friendly during the day, some costumes and subjects are more adult-friendly, and late-night parties can be noisy at times.

The convention has been based at the Gateway Center for more than two decades, except for a year when it moved to Westport Plaza due to a dispute with local hotels.

Adult registration at the door is $75 for the entire weekend, $30 for Friday, $45 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday.

Registration for young adults (17-20) is $35, youth (11-16) is $25, children 6-10 are $10, and children 5 and under are free .

For more information, visit www.archonstl.org.

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