RoberCon: A Fan-Focused Celebration of All Things Geek
Wizards, Jedi, and superheroes tromp up and down the grand staircase, backlit by an intricate stained glass window. This is RoberCon, a small-town convention with a unique venue.
The Roberson Mansion in Binghamton, New York, was built in 1904. The home’s owner, a lumber tycoon, willed the mansion to be used by the public as an educational center and art museum after his death. Now called the Roberson Museum and Science Center, the mansion adjoins to a modern structure. “It really adds a lot of character to the event,” says RoberCon programming co-chair Chris Kocher.
The venue isn’t all that stands out about this con. The overall vibe is relaxed but passionate. It’s clear that fans are steering the ship. It’s a small con, with around 1,500 attendees over the weekend. The programming is focused more on in-depth fan discussions rather than highly paid celebrity guests.
This is the fourth year MuggleNet has attended RoberCon. Each year, familiar faces show up, friendships are formed, and it honestly feels like talking with a bunch of your closest friends in your living room. The smaller crowd means more interaction between panelists and con-goers. Even after panels end, conversations continue in the hallway.
“Through the years, people have made a lot of friends. I’ve made a lot of friends. Fan groups have recruited a lot of people through RoberCon. So that makes me feel really good about the event,” says Kocher.
This year, we hosted two panels. The first reminisced about 20 years of the Harry Potter fandom, while the second took us into the uncharted territory of what could happen in the second Fantastic Beasts film. Both panels brought about great discussions and theories, whether offered up by a fan with an animated Fawkes on her shoulder or someone in Justice League cosplay. A well-rounded crowd with interests spanning over many fandoms adds color and different perspectives to the conversations.
All in all, RoberCon is a great little con with a wide range of offerings. True to its slogan, it’s a great place to let your geek flag fly!