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DragonCon devours Middle-earth: what can fandom do?

I attended my first fan convention in 1992. It was World Fantasy Con and there I met a dear lady and now departed friend, Clara Miller, who recruited me to join the volunteers of her small north Georgia convention, Magic Carpet Con. I say “recruited” but I was a complete stranger to Clara and she to me; she handed me a flyer announcing Magic Carpet ON I. For some reason, I found myself on the last night of the MCC convention helping Clara count money in the con suite. There had been a dispute among the con staff (as sadly happens too often) and virtually the entire crew left. I promised Clara I would help the next year but I wasn’t able to take on the responsibility of being a board member.

They eventually recruited me for the board of directors for MCC III and eventually we started a new convention, Galacticon. Somewhere along the way I met one of the senior directors for DragonCon. I had heard of Georgia’s “big” convention. All my friends had attended it at least once but I was remiss in my fan experience, mainly because I kept so busy with other things. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the DragonCon guy was there looking for volunteers for the big convention. Some people criticized this practice but when I mentioned the criticism to him he pointed out that all the small cons were recruiting each other’s staff, too.

Ah, the world of fandom convention politics. I learned more and more about the topic as the years rolled by. Small conventions, big conventions, all conventions have their little differences of opinion. Those differences can turn into huge feuds, the sense of which escapes the majority of people. I will spare you the usual digressions to say that I saw plenty of differences of opinion. But con runners also want to create a great experience for their guests and their attendees. I watched many people go out of their ways to make that happen. If you don’t know how much work goes into giving you a great 3-4 day convention, then the convention staff has done its job.

DragonCon boasts an annual attendance of around 60,000-75,000 people. Maybe the real number is higher. As a privately owned, commercial convention they don’t have to disclose their exact attendance and revenues to the public. What you need to know is that DragonCon is the product of a lot of different opinions and ideas, and yet the chaos is managed at the top by the relatively small group of senior directors.

They gave me a Hercules and Xena fan programming track simply because I asked why they didn’t already have one (and because they knew I had experience at running a convention with hundreds of attendees, which was comparable to what a good fan track might build up to). Two years later when it was obvious that Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies were going to be a huge cinematic wave across the globe I asked the powers that be at DragonCon if I could launch the Tolkien and Middle-earth track. Because Hercules and Xena were filmed in New Zealand, and because the LoTR movies were recruiting film crews from the Herc/Xena productions, I was sure we would be able to bring in guests that could benefit both fan tracks and main programming.

I had a winning argument going in to the annual pitch competition. I was assured that every year people were proposing new tracks and most of them were shot down, but upon hearing my argument the senior director who sponsored me said he was pretty sure the leadership would agree. And they did.

At DragonCon 2016 fans for Middle-earth and Westeros waited for the start of an epic panel. Michael took this picture from the stage.
At DragonCon 2016 fans for Middle-earth and Westeros waited for the start of an epic panel. Michael took this picture from the stage.

I ran the track for two years but I gave it up because I had been doing conventions for a decade, I was traveling across the USA to get to Atlanta, and I just wanted a break from convention management. But the Tolkien and Middle-earth track continued without me and even grew beyond my best expectations. In 2016 the Tolkien programming featured huge events that could not be hosted in the track’s assigned space. I sat on a Middle-earth vs. Westeros panel that drew a larger audience (I was told) than the media guests. There is no shame in admitting that Tolkien & Middle-earth is BIG at DragonCon.

And yet within weeks after the last convention Larry Curtis, the last track director, posted something curious on the track’s Facebook page. He asked the members of the group if they could help justify why a Tolkien track was necessary for DragonCon. More than one person read between the lines, but I sensed a change in the winds of DragonCon. I had lost touch with other track directors through the years. They used to have a strong Star Trek track, and a powerful Star Wars track, and other tracks. But dedicated fan programming tracks had a way of dying off as television shows and movie franchises reached the ends of their production runs.

Any science fiction franchise that continues to create new art whether it be books, comic books, movies, or television shows has a very good chance of retaining a large active fan base at conventions. But Hercules & Xena vanished along with several other once valued tracks. As a convention runner I could see what the senior directors might be thinking: the dedicated tracks that last longest tend to be the generic ones that incorporate a lot of different franchises, like the Fantasy Literature track, the British Media (now the Brit) track, and so on. You can find Fantasy Literature, American SciFi & Fantasy Media, and Anime/Manga tracks on the DragonCon site but where are all the dedicated FAN FRANCHISE tracks? They are gone. No, wait. They are on page 2.

I know that Whedonverse and Tolkien’s Middle-earth have been cancelled. The cancellations were not because of low numbers, not because of poor feedback, and not because of lack of space. DragonCon sprawls across downtown Atlanta, consuming at least five major hotels and a convention center. Even if they are crowded for space right now they can negotiate for more space with more buildings. This convention makes a profit or two. Bringing in more people brings in more money. I don’t have access to the books but I would say that DragonCon generates between $30 million and $50 million in revenues for Atlanta businesses (including the convention). What business would not want a piece of THAT four-day pie if it’s still growing? They even have a sanctioned street parade which is now broadcast on local television.

Other fan tracks have been cancelled too, I’m told. The writing is on the wall. DragonCon wants to break with the tradition of the dedicated fan programming track. On Twitter they assured me that “Tolkien events will still happen, and that experience won’t go away.”

But let’s back up here and look at the convention from a historical perspective. I can tell you from personal experience that it is very, very hard to grow a convention’s membership. Most science fiction and fantasy conventions fall into one of two categories: they either specialize in some franchise or they create programming across their schedule for a lot of different franchises. If yours is the only convention in the county, you feel a need to relate to as many SF fans’ interests as possible. Everyone gets a little bit of what they love and no one gets a lot. Even so, some conventions have grown their memberships to 5,000 or more doing just this.

There are some big conventions that are closely tied to media production companies. These conventions are able to draw big crowds because they announce news, lots of news, and people want to be there to see the sneak peeks live and up front. You get a little bit of that at DragonCon but not a whole lot, and maybe less than you used to.

I believe that what led to DragonCon’s huge growth was its division of resources among dedicated fan tracks. You couldn’t have your own Hercules and Xena convention in Georgia but DragonCon could make it happen for you. I know. I was there when it happened.

And they gave us a Tolkien and Middle-earth convention, too. The dedicated fan franchise tracks were presented as “miniature conventions within a large convention” to the track directors (and we presented it that way to our volunteers and members and guests). You get a room (or in a few cases ROOMS) for four days. You get the full service of whatever venue you’re in. You get support from the main convention in other ways, too. And, oh yes, they give you a budget for BIG guests, people you can schedule in your time in your space (even though they will also be scheduled wherever else they can be used).

Popular guests at DragonCon are worked all weekend long. That is why they have handlers, and why they are kept away from the fans at certain times. They need to be shuttled around from venue to venue and they need time to themselves. John Rhys-Davies came to the 2001 Tolkien Track over the only weekend he had available between two filming projects, and he could have spent that weekend with his family. Instead he spent it with “us”, the fans, and I barely saw the man two or three times while he was there. In my defense, I was a little busy. He was busier.

We didn’t just do movies at the Tolkien Track. Every track director (and I think I have known them all) has integrated literary, even scholarly programming into their schedule as much as possible. They have also brought in creative talent from outside the movies. My musical guests included Glass Hammer. Later directors were blessed to host Emerald Rose. We brought in licensed gaming companies. We brought in scholars and authors and artists. Sure, I pitched the track on the strength of movies but I knew going in that I wouldn’t be able to make it all about the movies.

I think DragonCon’s annual membership was officially pegged at around 25,000 people when I joined the convention. The formula has worked beautifully but maybe the senior directors see a different way forward. Perhaps it’s time to step away from the dedicated fan track experience and try something new. I grok that, guys, I really do. But while absorbing the most popular Tolkien sessions into main programming main seem like a great idea today, what will you do for innovation next year and the year afterward?

Dedicated fan tracks can be very experimental. They are not afraid to try stuff that the generic tracks won’t consider. Having supported some disenfranchised fan groups with campaigns at DragonCon, I know how hard it is to get good sessions into the generic programming tracks. Unless you can flood those tracks with 100+ costumed fans, they don’t see why you need just one more session for YOUR favorite franchise. After all, there are a dozen other fan franchises that want that space and time as well.

I don’t mean to take anything away from the people who run the generic tracks, but they cannot provide the same satisfying experience that the dedicated franchise tracks create for fans. You can immerse yourself in the world of your choice, but only if it’s there in the schedule all the time.

The math suggests that if space is being taken away from a few dedicated tracks it must be given to a few (or all) of the generic tracks. And so that should mean more sessions and more rooms are available for Fantasy Literature (but fewer for Tolkien and Middle-earth), more rooms and sessions for the Film Track (but fewer for Tolkien and Middle-earth), and more for tracks that don’t overlap much with Tolkien and Middle-earth (or Whedonverse). Let’s face it, the sum total of the Tolkien experience will be divided and scattered across a confusing maze of hotels and streets and levels that will make it hard for fans to get to everything they want to see.

That special “convention within a convention” experience will be lost for the fan franchises that have enjoyed it. And it HAS been lost by several franchises already. This is nothing new, except that unlike in previous years the decision is not based on low or poor participation and experience scores. It’s based on something else.

To wind up a long-winded post, let me say that some fans are angry because they have been hurt financially by this decision. They have already booked rooms (and getting hotel rooms for DragonCon is not easy unless you stay farther out and commute). They have made their travel plans. They may get some refunds but they may not get all their money back. And they were only going because of the dedicated fan tracks that have been discontinued.

Dedicated Tolkien fan sites are striking up the chorus of support in hope of persuading the powers that be to defer the cancellation at least one year, or to reconsider altogether this most dreadful of decisions. I don’t know what the chances of winning a reprieve are. Supposedly very little is carved in stone, yet. And based on my own experience I know this is still early in DragonCon’s planning cycle (but they will make their final decisions soon).

I think the convention will lose several types of value if it goes forward with this decision:

  • They will lose the good will of anyone who loses money (and thus feels cheated)
  • They cannot replace that “convention within a convention” experience for dedicated fan tracks, although each of the remaining tracks still creates a “convention within a convention”. There will be no Tolkien convention in Georgia this year. That is the bottom line.
  • They lose the experimentation that comes from a dedicated track focusing on just one field. Tolkien literature and media productions are still ongoing, even if no major movies are in production. And the list of potential musical guests is extraordinary.
  • Some guests and panelists may decide it’s not worth their time to participate in DragonCon. That remains to be seen.
  • Who will champion new Tolkien-related guests and panelists? Who will maintain that Heimdallic, Mandosian watch for the next really good thing in Tolkien & Middle-earth? I don’t think a generic track can own the field like a dedicated track does.
  • When DragonCon looks homogenous and generic like all the little conventions, then why should people travel from afar to visit Atlanta if they can get much the same thing closer to home? Maybe the growth will continue. It will take several years to verify what the trends turn out to be. By then, who at DragonCon will know where to find a good dedicated fan track director, if they decide to go back to the old way of doing things?

It’s hard to estimate how many fans will be directly affected by this. I mean, how many fans spend most of their time at the Tolkien track events? I am sure the number of core track members is in the hundreds, but I’m not sure they will be heard if they just boycott DragonCon.

What can you do? Here are a few suggestions.

  • If you have attended DragonCon because of the Tolkien track, contact the convention and let them know. Please be polite. Trust me. I know what happens when you vent your anger in raw emotion. It won’t help.
  • If you want a dedicated Tolkien fan track, FIND ONE AND SUPPORT IT. DragonCon is not the only convention in the world. Other fan conventions carry Tolkien programming. You can help a local convention build up Tolkien and Middle-earth programming by attending, asking for the sessions, and even volunteering to run the panels.
  • Someone could start a new Tolkien & Middle-earth fan convention. There are not that many and the most well-known ones are located far apart. If you see an opportunity in your area, support the convention. Volunteer, help sell memberships, spread the word. Don’t expect a major media convention right away, but an existing mid-sized convention could have the resources to respawn the Tolkien & Middle-earth experience that DragonCon appears to be walking away from.  Some convention runners do manage two or more conventions.  You lose nothing by asking.

We don’t need to be vindictive about this. I will make myself available to DragonCon’s other tracks for Tolkien programming if I can attend the convention this year (that has been in question for a few months for completely unrelated reasons) and maybe in future years. I hope other people who have participated in the track’s programming give the new experience a chance, too. But one should always have a plan B.

In my opinion, if DragonCon doesn’t want to own the dedicated Tolkien and Middle-earth fan experience any more then let the fans find a new home. Or let them find several new homes. This may be the end of one journey but remember that the road goes ever on. So does Tolkien fandom.

About the Author: Michael Martinez

Michael Martinez is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and author of Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, Visualizing Middle-earth, Understanding Middle-earth: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and Mindfaring through Middle-earth.

  • Marc McKenzie

    Michael, thank you for a very mature summary and analysis. I have a lot of experience with similar things in a parallel universe. Though a “from the beginning” fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, and others I have never desired to be part of any of these events until my life brought me to Tolkien an Middle Earth. I would never even consider going to an event not dedicated to this! If someone seriously is interested in building such an event, really a business unless some group like this fully sponsored it, I offer my free and considerable experience to help get it started. I presume we’re talking about a North American event.

    Of course there is no substitute for what the Tolkien Society offers in the U.K. – but for me health limits that to virtual involvement for now!

  • We have had a similar experience in Europe with RingCon and HobbitCon – after a great, 13 year run the convention experience has changed so much and so rapidly that all efforts to keep a Tolkien track like at DragonCon running have petered out. Let’s face it, “Tolkien” is not as franchised as the convention business has become (or has always been) and its with smaller and medium-sized meetings run by the literary societies and like-minded instiutions that our hopes should rest.

    Not everything is meant to last forever 😉


    Happy New Year! 🙂

  • AshAlly08

    This was a really great and informative read.

    Just wanted to add my two cents and ask a question… I’ll start with the latter: Are there actual Tolkien-themed conventions in the U.S.?

    DragonCon is great, it really is, especially if you have a diversity of interests. I love Tolkien and Who over in BritTrack and Harry Potter and BSG and Star Wars and and and…. This past year, too often, I found myself not being able to do anything because there was just so much of everything. But my greatest disappointment was not being able to participate in any Game of Thrones-related panels because they were overcrowded and probably because it doesn’t have a track of its own. I studied Tolkien in college and would’ve loved to attend the Middle Earth/Westeros panel this year. I have a feeling that this is the future of fan programming tracks like Whedonverse and Middle Earth. These panels and sessions are going to get a lot harder to get into, because there’s only so much time and so much space.

    This is why I bring up the Tolkien-themed conventions elsewhere. As much as I love DragonCon, I decided this year not to go and to maybe attend in 2018 or 2019. That may be an option for those who specifically go to DragonCon for Tolkien. I decided this year I’ll spend my money in Nashville at Con of Thrones. My understanding is that Con of Thrones was created because there was so little GoT programming at other conventions (besides San Diego, which no one can afford anyway). Conventions are so popular and mainstream now that maybe that’s the way to go for Middle Earth fans.

    • Are there Tolkien-themed “conventions” in the USA? Yes and no. There are some collegiate-sponsored events that are semi-academic conferences. There was one in Tennessee that I almost attended last September but I could not fit it into my schedule. And I just heard about Tol-Con which debuts this year, but it looks small and is very far north. And my friend Hawke Robinson, also a member of the Tolkien Society and founder of a smial, hosts TolkienMoot (formerly MerpCon) in Spokane, WA but he now runs it out of his home. The DragonCon programming track was able to do things most small conventions cannot do, at least not at first. It’s expensive to run a convention and you have to sell those memberships almost continuously. So it won’t be easy for anyone to replace the DragonCon programming with a new convention; an established convention with a budget and located near a good airport could do it, though. North American fans have lost a huge experience with this track cancellation regardless of what DragonCon tries to do with the most popular sessions. I hope Tolkien & Middle-earth remain big, popular topics at DragonCon but I think they are done cultivating small franchise tracks. They have grown large enough now that DragonCon needs to become something else.

      • AshAlly08

        I’m by no means saying it’s easy to just create a new Con tomorrow, but seems like this is a need just waiting to be filled. So far from what I’m gathering, there really isn’t a North American Tolkien-based con that brings in the big name guests and combine the aspects of some of the current more academic/scholarly Tolkien conferences. I suppose until we see a programming schedule for 2017 Dragoncon, we really won’t know how much all of this will change, but it seems like if Dragoncon is going to drop being the sole provider of this experience some enterprising group out there might make a nice penny or two picking it up and it may prove to be better for folks who want more focus on Middle-Earth anyway.

        • DragonCon was THE North American convention that brought all segments of Tolkien fandom together: media, literary, and even academic. The only thing DragonCon’s Tolkien track lacked, really, was a call for papers or the handing out of literary awards. I always felt those activities were better covered by the academic and organization-managed conferences anyway.

          There has always been some disinterest from both sides of fandom in the other. It remains to be seen if a strong hybrid event can be arranged again, but I would be willing to support a North American effort as long as it’s not based in a small town that is hard (and expensive) to reach. For me, travel across the Atlantic is not really an option.

          I think it would help grow Tolkien’s literary fandom. Through the years, both at DragonCon and other conventions, many fans have told me that they discovered the books because of the movies and plays (school plays, mostly). I hope we can find a way to regain that synthesis.

          • mithluin

            I feel that Mythmoot is trying to step into that role. While its origin is decidedly as an academic conference, the first 3 events were all planned to tie into the Hobbit film release, and they’ve made sure to have artistic and musical guests, as well as focus on LOTRO as an adaptation of Tolkien’s world. This year’s event is at a conference center near Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, so about as accessible as they come.

            No one besides DragonCon has the budget to invite guests from the film industry, I don’t think, but it is always possible that as a small fan or academic based Con grows, they would eventually have the ability to do that, if that was their desire. Personally, that does not interest me at all, and my involvement with the Tolkien Track at this past DragonCon was to attend the panel on visiting New Zealand and to go to the parties – Evening at Bree to reconnect with friends, and the Middle Earth dance party to be AliceCooper!Curufin…I have to admit that nowhere outside of DragonCon would that make any sense.

            Nothing gold can stay. 🙁

          • If Mythmoot or any other existing Tolkien-related event wants to step into the role they will have to seriously reduce their membership prices. Up until December 31 DragonCon’s preregs were about $100. Mythmoot’s early registration fee is almost $400. To pay nearly four times as much for considerably less programming is asking a great deal of fans. They all have their places in the landscape of scholarship and fan appreciation. If people want something like the DragonCon experience, though, they will have to work hard to replace that.

            As for the media guests, there are mid-sized conventions across the country that bring in media guests all the time. It’s a piecemeal thing, to be sure, but it’s doable.

          • Let’s face the facts – if you want to have people from films and television shows the only option is to have a major convention like DragonCon, that is in the end, a for profit company running the show. The international convention business has become so incredibly expensive and the competition is so tough that there is no chance of combining the academic, the fandom and the big names anymore. Those are not necessarily mutually exclusive but they are very hard to get together when the main issue is money.

            Some actors and actresses are now making more money off the convention circus than off acting. Actors who would have asked for a small five digit number ten years ago are now openly demanding six digit figures. So for DragonCon growing its business the smaller, fan-based tracks are tons of hassle without extra cash flowing in, it was just a question of time.

            What is doable for a convention like Mythmoot (if it is not changing into a full for profit company doing big events) would be to invite guests like Alan Lee and John Howe as artists or people from behind the camera from WETA Workshop and Digital. Those people won’t ask for huge sums but usually are happy to share their experiences with fans from all over the world … and this will be as cool or even cooler than seeing the actors and actresses on stage.

            However, it all boils down to money and your own expectations – if you wanna see the big names, ComicCon & Co. will be your only option from now on. But don’t expect a dedicated track to any topic anymore, if it’s not tied into a very successful franchise at that given moment.

          • I don’t think it has come to that. There is more to the DragonCon story than meets the eye, in my opinion. Media guests (actors) still accept invitations to many mid-size conventions, and the stars of the Peter Jackson movies have appeared in other productions. I think, however, people are missing the point. The DragonCon Tolkien track was never just about the movies. It is about the people who enjoy the movies and the books and the plays and the artwork and the costuming, etc. We have many smaller conventions and conferences that serve these interests. I think something like the Tolkien track at DragonCon could be organized again. Maybe only a for-profit con can do it. I don’t know. But there have been some pretty big one-time or few-time gatherings that brought both media guests and scholars and fan guests together. It can be done again, hopefully in North America where I can enjoy the experience (yes, I am being selfish in that wish).

          • mithluin

            Mythmoot’s pricing includes all meals for the weekend, and rooms at the convention center are $60-89/night. DragonCon hotel prices are…considerably more, for obvious reasons. Also, I can drive to this location, so it saves on airfare for me :P. So, at the end of the day, it will be cheaper for me to attend Mythmoot than DragonCon.
            No, I see your point, and I was not suggesting that Mythmoot was attempting to replace the Tolkien and Middle Earth track at DragonCon. I merely meant that it was trying to blend academic and fan interests, which seemed to be a similar goal to ALEP and Dragon Con’s Tolkien track.

          • The people at DragonCon will have to prove they have a winning formula for fans who want an immersive Tolkien experience. Anyone who wants to recreate that experience will need time to put a plan together and act upon it. So none of this will play itself out in less than 1-2 years. I have serious doubts about DragonCon’s ability to deliver on their promise but that is largely because they originally would not allow me to run two separate programming tracks (not that I ever asked if I could do that). They said it was too much for one person to handle, and experience taught me they were right. So now they have changed their minds; in reality, I think they are just thinking in terms of “cutting dead wood off the tree”, and if that is the case then they have entirely forgotten what it was all about, or they don’t care.

    • mithluin

      Here are the 3 Tolkien-themed conventions happening in the US in 2017 that I am aware of:

      Mythmoot IV is a 3-day academic conference with a fannish component to it. There will be presentations of papers, as well as singing and guest artists. People are encouraged to wear costumes for the banquet. The focus is strongly on Tolkien, while also incorporating other fantasy and sci-fi. Guests include Verlyn Flieger and (possibly) Ted Nasmith.
      It will be held June 1-4 near Washington, DC

      A Long Expected Party (ALEP) 4 is a 4-day immersive event focused strictly on Tolkien held at a Shaker Village in Kentucky every 3 years. Costumes are encouraged the entire time. Panels are on fan topics as well as some academic topics with games and contests mixed in. Each night has a banquet and evening program with skits and music. Guests include Prof. Michael Drout and musician Marc Gunn.
      It will be held Sept. 27-Oct. 1st near Lexington, KY

      Tol-Con is a new fan-hosted Tolkien convention in Minnesota that would like to get started up this year. I can’t say for sure what they will have there as this is their first year, but I know they plan to have some interactive workshops and a catered banquet, among other things.
      It will be held Nov. 3-5th in Chaska, MN

      These are all fan or academic run events, and have no ties to the film-making industry. To my knowledge, there will be no actors present as guests at these events, as that is not the focus. A gathering of like-minded fans is very much what you will find here, so lots of good conversations and people being silly and getting each others’ geeky jokes. Good times!

      If people are aware of others, let me know!

      • One should add MythCon, the possibly longest-standing Tolkien-centered event in Northern America afaik. As it is run by the Mythopoeic Society it has a strongly literary interest – you will find well-known experts but not many movie stars…

        • mithluin

          Yes, definitely an oversight on my part! I figure folks can gauge how academic an event is based on whether they have a Call for Papers or a process to submit applications for presenting Panels. 😉

          • I wouldn’t worry about the calls for papers. In the past some of the academic conferences have announced public access activities. People should review each conference’s Website and see what they are doing. And they can always send a polite email or call and talk with someone.

      • AshAlly08

        I had no idea about Mythmoot… I live in Alexandria, Va so I might have to check that one out!

      • Louis E.

        FWIW I have run,usually hosted,the invitational Tolkienic Convention for the National Tolkien League since 1977.We abbreviate it TolCon.There was a “Tolkon” in Australia and another “Tolcon” in the Pacific Northwest…the name is logical enough but I hope the people in Minnesota are not going to try to trademark it.

        • mithluin

          According to their FAQ, they intend to set up a non-profit organization if this turns out to be more than just a one-time event. Basically, the November event has to be successful before they commit to a repeat.

          I understand about the stepping-on-toes aspect of taking someone else’s name, so if you have any concerns, it’s probably best to contact them and make them aware of the issue. I’m sure they can choose a unique name for their non-profit to avoid any confusion or association with other existing events, if it comes to that.

      • Please do not forget New York, either.

        And the Grey Havens Group, Colorado, has developed into an amazing non-profit.

        P.S.: There is a lot happening in the States. I am always amazed people don’t know that.

        You should really have a look at:

  • Catherine Windsor

    The biggest question I have is why didn’t DC announce this this year, implement it next year? Folks that attend strictly for the Middle Earth track would have had the option to choose whether or not they want to spend money on the con. I had been thinking about attending next year, but not if there’s to be no dedicated track.

    • So far as I know, they did not give any of the other tracks that have been discontinued (in the past or this year) a final year. I can understand why they do that, although I don’t necessarily agree with the policy.

      • Catherine Windsor

        Thanks Michael. I think I’ll look for one of the other cons that still have a Tolkien track.

  • Louis E.

    To me,the true fan never even considers going to commercial conventions like DragonCon or ComicCon.
    Build up the non-profit fan-run conventions and help the moneygrubbers die.

  • gboybama

    If DCon is going more generic and more corporate, that’s a darn shame. The TOLK track people who gave of their time this year did a great job trying to make sure the experience for fans didn’t suffer, but in some ways I wonder if the writing is on the wall. If DCon insiders are hostile to allocating resources to individual fandoms and are slowly but surely whittling away their remaining autonomy, I think they will lose the unique appeal of the con.