By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
All photos Courtesy Dragon Con Photography (c) 2019 Dragon Con, Inc

One of Atlanta’s biggest Summer events is going viral – and no, not as in another global pandemic! Dragon Con traditionally attracts thousands of attendees from all over the world, but due to the ongoing pandemic, the massive in-person 2020 event has been canceled. Luckily, Dragon Con will stay true to form and offer plenty of virtual experiences to satisfy their faithful fanbase. Peach spoke to Dragon Con’s Media Engagement Director, Dan Carroll, a long-time event volunteer and staunch LGBTQ ally, about the many initiatives for the virtual version of Dragon Con happening Labor Day weekend, September 3-7.

The Dragon Con phenomenon has gone virtual this year because of the global pandemic – how was it to make that decision to reshape the traditionally very in-person event to be online?

It was a difficult decision to make, but It was the right decision. 

There was no option available to the Dragon Con family to have a safe in-person event. The city, the Atlanta Convention and Business Bureau, and the hotels all worked together. 

What are some of the initiatives you are taking to make this feel like a legit Dragon Con weekend?

We will stream channels of classic content, live events, and pre-recorded panel discussions. We will be preserving our premier events such as the masquerade and the parade, along with other costume contests! Also, we are excited that up to 160 vendors, artists, and creators will be joining us for a whole exciting world of online shopping during the event. Gaming will be through Discord, as well as other initiatives we will have through Discord to help people feel connected. 

It looks like you are switching this around to focus a lot on the people who would typically attend Dragon Con. Has the pandemic struck a sentimental nerve with you?

The real star of Dragon Con has always been the attendees! The hardest part of postponing our in-person show to next year is knowing that it will be a full year before we will be able to hug a lot of our friends. 

… And you are even doing a virtual parade! How will that work in a virtual setting?

The participants have recorded themselves walking in costume, and DC TV will stitch all the videos together into a final product and add commentary! The response has been amazing. 

What are some online events that you will be looking forward to?

As always, the Masquerade and the parade! I also look forward to seeing many live panels and recorded track panels, which I normally always miss. 

Dragon Con has always been popular within the LGBTQ community – why do you think that is?

Dragon Con has always been a place for people to be themselves, or anyone else they want to be. With roots In the Idea that geeks get a chance to express themselves without judgment. It was a natural evolution for Dragon Con to become a place of welcome and joy for the LGBTQ community. We strive as much as possible for Dragon Con to be a place that is inclusive and engaging for all those seeking representation, a voice, a way to celebrate their fandoms. 

Looking towards 2021 – do you already have things in the planning? 

Dragon Con 2021 planning is ongoing! While it is too far ahead to speak of specifics, it will be epic! But first, our priority is to make sure that our Virtual Dragon Con exceeds expectations. 

Since we’ve almost experienced a viral pandemic apocalypse scenario in real life, do you think that’ll influence the theme(s) of next year’s Dragon Con? Will it go viral instead of virtual?

That will be left for next year! My personal guess, and not an official Dragon Con statement, is that post-apocalyptic themes will be played out, and future Utopias will be back in vogue because trends change, and we have the real news and reality-based fiction to show us life In a pandemic. 

Of course, without a crystal ball, It’s anyone’s guess. 

About Dragon Con

Dragon Con is the largest multi-media, pop culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe – and the best place to celebrate all of these things with fellow fans on Labor Day Weekend. This year, the massive fanfest has gone virtual to keep everyone safe and healthy during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more, sign up for memberships, and see the extensive schedule of virtual offerings at Dragoncon.org.