ATLANTA — For the past 34 years, come to Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend and you'll find thousands of pop culture fans, dressed in costumes, wandering the streets of Atlanta this past weekend. It's Dragon Con.
Instead, due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers planned a totally online convention, with original celebrity panels, classic programming, 24-hour gaming, virtual vendor halls, plus 100 hours of classic programming and even some new features.
They called the virtual event a "total success" after they say fans from six continents tuned into events between Sept. 3-7 with content accessed more than 600,000 times.
They said more than 650 hours of live and pre-recorded programming was offered to fan across multiple platforms, including Vimeo, Roku, Eventeny, YouTube, Facebook Live and the Dragon Con website.
Fans from 49 different nations – from Canada to New Zealand, from Argentina to Japan – joined the more than 400,000 conversations that were held over a dedicated Discord server, in chat rooms dedicated to specific genres to the wide-open voice chats held in “bars” and “lobbies”.
Vendors were not left out of the fun. While fans could not "shop" in person, organizers say vendors and artists in comics, pop art and fine art sold more than $200,000 in merchandise over the first four days of the convention.
“The response of our fans to Dragon Con Goes Virtual has been out-of-this world,” said Dragon Con co-chair Rachel Reeves. “We knew there was a real hunger for the chance to come together as a community, a place where everybody is not only welcome, but celebrated, and just take a break from the real-world events happening around us.
“We are especially grateful to the small army of passionate and insanely creative Dragon Con volunteers who developed the programming, put it into the ether, and fueled the entire weekend.”