Written by Britany Marriott
It was short notice when my job asked me to help be a part of a twosome to run a table in the dealer’s room at the Shore Leave convention at the Hunt Valley Inn, but none the less I was no less excited. On Friday morning (August 1st, 2014) I searched my bedroom to find my captain’s shirt, under the assumption that it was only a Star Trek convention, only to find my weeping angel shirt. As I donned the shirt with a heavy sigh I got ready for a brand new experience.
I arrived around 2 with my partner in crime and was met with a couple of hiccups. Our badges said that we were only supposed to be there for Saturday and Sunday. Not only that, our table was actually taken by someone else who arrived earlier. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it there until it was time to start selling.
By the time I put on my badge and walked in with my coworker there was a gentleman ready and waiting for us at the registration table who already took care of our problem. They were so efficient with solving the problem, that it never became a problem for us. We were situated smack dab in the middle of main dealer’s hall, located in Maryland II at the inn. We were set up where we had already known some of the people around us, and others we introduced ourselves to for the first time. Once 2:30 hit, we were on a roll and selling merchandise.
As the days continued to move quickly, more of the vendors came over to chat and took the time to tell us of their past experiences with this con, some were actually apart of putting it together. The woman in charge of the dealer’s room, Debbie Priester, even came over to double check on us to see if everything was alright and asked us if she needed to watch our table if wanted a bathroom break. Not only were other staff members and venders wonderful to us, but the people attending the convention as well. Upon hearing that this was our first time being there, a fire was lit in their eyes, telling us stories of Shore Leave’s past and inviting us to join them in panels they would attend.
The conventions I usually attend are centered on Japanese culture or comic books. This one, however, was my first sci-fi convention. At first it was a Star Trek convention before it grew into something much bigger. There were a range of different interests that were expressed at this convention and, near and dear to my heart, many different cosplays as well. When I saw my first storm trooper I knew that it was ok to wear my weeping angel cosplay the next day, because this wasn’t just a Star Trek convention. Its main focus is for the love of all science fiction. As long as you love sci-fi, there was something that entertained you here. Though I didn’t get to go around much and venture to see many of the panels and talks that we were invited to, I experienced something I don’t usually experience anymore.
There are times when you experience a convention and a phenomenon occurs known as “con love”. Now con love is when the atmosphere of the convention is a safe haven for all who have come to enjoy the con and all of the festivities. The convention becomes a place where you’re not pre-judged from what you enjoy, what you do, what you look like, etc. Everyone is happy to be your friend and greet you with a warm smile because you’re here enjoying the same con they are and that’s all; plain and simple. There were conventions where I had felt alienated at times, or treated poorly for one reason or another. I am letting you know, that you will not find that kind of behavior here.
When chatting with everyone there, there was a very powerful sense of welcome. Not a single person was negative, nor did I witness a negative experience at this convention. Everyone was extremely affable and friendly, giving hugs to each other and helping to maintain the calm and easygoing ambiance. True, there are things that can happen with any con, however, when I was at this convention I couldn’t help but feel like I was a part of a very large and very accepting family. All types of fandoms were welcomed with open arms. I saw cosplayers range from Ponies to Pacific Rim and no matter what you dressed up as, you were not judged; people were just happy that you came to the con to have some fun. In fact I had so much fun that it ended a little too quickly for me and I had trouble leaving the inn without lagging just a little to thank everyone once again for treating us so wonderfully. This convention, made by fans for fans, was a memorable one for me. It was truly a joy to be there this year and I am counting down the days until next year’s Shore Leave convention.
More photos provided by Britany and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum