The Dragon has been sung back into its lair: DragonCon is over for another year. For five remarkable days, geekdom had a chance to gather again and celebrate together – and TORn staffers deej, Madeye Gamgee and greendragon were able to be with them. Read on, for greendragon’s thoughts on the event.
I’m sure the first question on many people’s minds will be, ‘How was the safety of the event?’ My overall impression was very good. At check in, everyone (be they attending fans, professionals, exhibitors, or guests) was required to show either proof of vaccination or of a negative Covid test, before receiving their pass. Masks were required at all venues – and from what I saw, this was carefully enforced. It must be said, I was not at the Con late at night; and some folks reported that ‘DragonCon after dark’, when perhaps drinks had been consumed, saw masks being discarded. But in the High Fantasy Track room, and at An Evening at Bree, I didn’t see anyone unmasked. Masks were even – gasp! – up over noses, as well as covering mouths. Many cosplayers had found fun and creative ways to coordinate their masks with their outfits – and of course masks are an integral part of many costumes anyway.
Numbers were restricted this year – fewer than half the usual attendees were allowed; and it has to be said, it was wonderful to be able to cross the skybridge between hotels, or get in an elevator, without waiting for half an hour. 35,000 is still plenty of people, so the con did not feel empty – and there were still long lines for An Evening at Bree, and full panels at many of the tracks. (Numbers in track rooms were also reduced, to allow more space; and no standing was allowed.) Rooms were carefully cleaned – each track room had an hour of deep cleaning during each day, as well as a deep clean overnight, and between panels mics were given new covers and surfaces sanitized. As Madeye Gamgee put it, ‘…all the pandemic mitigation standards were followed and seemed to work.’
On the downside, the parade seemed strange without the watchers along the street; that is perhaps something which didn’t work so well with reduced crowds. I know lots of folks missed the fan tables – and that’s a good opportunity for me to remind you that there is new TORn merchandise (shirts, socks, bags, masks, waterbottles, etc.) available online!
Do take a look at the various designs available at TORn’s online Spring store – and thanks for supporting the website!
As mentioned above, lines were long and the room (with the limited capacity allowed) full for Friday night’s An Evening at Bree. The Brobdingnagian Bards got us off to a great start, with toe tapping music playing from the very start, as guests arrived. We had wondered if we should try to limit dancing this year – but you just can’t keep the denizens of Middle-earth off their feet, and soon masked folks were swirling and skipping. Others enjoyed sitting in groups at tables, enjoying a drink from the Prancing Pony bar at the back of the room. After the Bards’ rousing set, the costume contest took place. It was a delight to see the usual extraordinary creativity and talent we’ve come to expect from this contest – big thanks to judges Constance and Laura, who had the unenviable task of selecting winners. Best in show was Lacey Santos’ amazing Smaug, Queen under the Mountain – complete with incredible embroidery, and Arkenstone in hand.
Musician Beth Patterson was new to Bree this year, but we hope she’ll be back – her two sets were wonderful, and kept everyone in high spirits. We ended the night with some recorded music, allowing us to bring fan favourites Emerald Rose back to Bree. TORn is always very glad to host An Evening at Bree for DragonCon’s High Fantasy Track; as Madeye Gamgee said, ‘It felt like a joyful reunion of old friends and fellowships.’ We look forward to next year; meanwhile, you can check out DragonCon TV’s coverage of this year’s event in the video below.
For those of you who couldn’t attend this year – or who did attend, and want to keep the geeky fun going – there are all kinds of panels, geeky fun, and special guests, to be found at dragoncontv.com. You’ll need to pay $10 for access; and that will enable you to watch TORn’s panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship ofthe Ring. You can find that under Fan Tracks (Saturday), at the 4’59 mark.
All in all, I think a good time was had by all, and I applaud the DragonCon organisers and many volunteers for all their hard work. Going back to that question of safety: I personally stayed away from big crowds, and was on the floor of the con much less than I would usually be, only going to specific events and otherwise staying out of the melee. When I was there, however – at Bree and for panels, as well as catching up with friends – I did not feel unsafe. Of course, when 35,000 people gather in one place, it seems inevitable that some, after the event, will test positive for Covid; but, to quote Madeye Gamgee again, ‘Assuming there aren’t any major super-spreader outbreaks connected to the weekend, DragonCon may have proven that a return to some form of a live convention is possible.’ And that is an encouraging thought.
The Dragon awakens! After a Covid-enforced hiatus last year, DragonCon is back in Atlanta this weekend – and TORn will be there!
The organisers of DragonCon are doing their best to keep everyone safe, requiring attendees to show proof of vaccination or of a negative Covid test, and to wear masks. Numbers will be scaled back (though given how massive DragonCon’s crowds usually are, the venues may not FEEL uncrowded), and there are no fan tables this year. This means TORn staffers deej and greendragon will not be in their usual spot, selling shirts and other merch. BUT – you can find them around the Con, and you can find merchandise online!
TORn’s ‘Hope is Kindled’ design, which was revealed at the end of 2020, seeking to cheer us all in the days of pandemic, can be found at our online Spring store. We’ve also brought back fan favourites ‘Keep Calm and Read Tolkien’ and ‘Coexist’ – which you can order on shirts, mugs, masks, and even socks! Check out all the goodies in the store here; and thanks for supporting the website!
Regular DragonCon attendees will be glad to know that Friday night’s ‘Evening at Bree’ is happening this year. Live music will be provided by The Brobdingnagian Bards and Beth Patterson, and there will of course be a costume contest – sign up for it at the High Fantasy Track Room. An Evening at Bree will be in the Hilton Grand West ballroom, 8.30pm, Friday night.
Tolkien panels in the High Fantasy Track include (of course!) TORn’s panel about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series. What do we know? What spy reports can we share? Friday 2.30pm is the time to discover those secrets, in the High Fantasy Track Room (Marriott L401-403); when staffers deej, greendragon and Madeye Gamgee will share all they know – and speculate about stuff they don’t know…
On Saturday at 5pm there will be a streamed, pre-recorded panel featuring the above staffers, and a rare sighting for TORn founder Calisuri; this panel is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship ofthe Ring. Calisuri spills the beans about a very special invitation he received, to see some amazing footage in Cannes…
At other times during the Con, you can find entertainment such as Madeye Gamgee discussing the Second Age, greendragon talking Arthurian Adaptations, and deej considering Tolkien’s influence on Stephen King’s The Stand. Find full details in the High Fantasy Track’s schedule for the weekend!
We’re excited to see folks at the Con, and to share some Middle-earth fun with you all. We’ll miss those of you who can’t attend; we’ll raise a drink to absent friends! Cheers, Gaffer!
Well, we’re back – with Episode 2 of our collectibles themed podcast. (If you missed it, you can find Episode 1 here.) In this episode, we talk about the importance of having a clear concept of what you want your collection to be, what you want in that collection, and being open to when a special piece crosses your path. We think this topic is important when collecting, because it’s very easy to feel the need to have everything, and thus get overwhelmed and burned out. We hope you enjoy the podcast – and we’re already working on episode 3!
It’s that time of year, when fans from the world over gather in downtown Atlanta, for a weekend for well-mannered frivolity. Or crazed depravity. Or, most likely, some combination of the two. This year, alas, coronavirus means no in-person DragonCon, which is sad for all those who are missing seeing friends there. But it’s great new for anyone who has never been able to get to Atlanta, as this year you can join the fun online! And there is PLENTY going on for fans of Middle-earth. Let’s take a look…
Staffers deej and greendragon will be taking part as ever, and TheOneRing.net’s panel will be online at 11.30am ET on Saturday (5th). There, deej and greendragon will be joined by High Fantasy Track assistant director Madeye Gamgee, who was recently lured into joining the TORn staff. We’ll be looking back on the past 12 months of Tolkien fandom, and looking forward to see what we can be excited about in the year ahead. (Spoiler: there’s actually rather a lot!)
Before that, on Friday evening at 8.30pm ET we’ll be hosting a Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (EE) watch along. Set up your own device, and we’ll all hit play together at 9pm precisely; and text chat along as we watch. AND earlier on Friday, you can catch a panel with none other than Nori, Ori, Bombur and Bifur: Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, Stephen Hunter and William Kircher will be appearing together to chat all things dwarvish!
There are lots of other things happening which will be of interest to Tolkien fans. Here’s a list of highlights of the con weekend, beginning this evening:
Tolkien Come to Virtual Dragon Con High Fantasy Schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern Daylight)
Thursday, Sept. 3
Sylvester McCoy (from 2011)
We Have Always Fought: Warrior Women in High Fantasy
D*C Fan Tracks
Friday, Sept. 4
Greg Hildebrandt Spotlight
Dwarves on the Loose!(Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher)
8:30 pm onward
Watch-a-Thon! Fellowship of the Ring (hitting “play” together at 9 pm EDT)
And as if that weren’t enough… We are also excited to let you know that there WILL be TORn t-shirts available! You’ll be able to order them online, and we’ll be revealing the designs for 2020 in our panel on Saturday, 11.30am ET. So please join us then! We’ll also post links here for buying, after Saturday’s reveal.
It’s all happening at DragonCon 2020. We may not be able to gather in person, but we can still have merry meetings online; see you for panels, movie viewing, and more. Let the fun begin!
Since TORn’s beginning early in 1999, Corvar (William R. Thomas) has been the mystery man behind the scenes working on TheOneRing.net’s server from where he lives in Wisconsin. A computer programming professional who, along with Calisuri (Chris Pirrotta), is the guy responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly and the lights stay on. Corvar’s vast programming knowledge in the ever-changing computer field ensures that TheOneRing.net keeps clipping along without a hitch. But when we do hitch… he’s the one they call.
I feel it in the water… I smell it in the air. The beast has emerged from its lair, and DragonCon is here again! Here’s what you can expect from Middle-earth fandom, and from TheOneRing.net, this weekend:
We’ll have our usual ‘fan table’ in our normal spot, in the Hyatt hotel opposite the entrance to the Art Show. There we’ll have buttons and shirts for sale; here’s a glimpse of our merchandise for this year:
We’ll also have other goodies for you to look at, maybe a few giveaways, and we’ll be happy as ever to chat with our fellow fans!
The High Fantasy track will be in L401-403 in the Marriott, and there are various panels which will be of interest to Tolkien fans; such as a discussion about The Inklings (Saturday 2.30pm), ‘Valar-ous Women of Middle-earth’ (Sunday 5.30pm), and TORn’s own ‘They’re taking the Hobbits to Amazon!’ panel (Sunday 4pm, in a bigger room – Marriott A601-602).
Then of course Friday night is the EVENING AT BREE! From 8.30pm in the Grand Salon West (Hilton), join us for music and revelry! Bands Toucan Dubh and Landloch’d will play, the Elf Choir will sing, and we’ll have the ever popular costume contest – possibly with a celebrity host or two…
(Don’t forget, if you want to sign up for the costume contest, you need to do it IN ADVANCE of the ‘Evening at Bree’. Go to the High Fantasy Track Room (Marriott L401-403) or visit the TORn fan table before 6pm on Friday to sign up to participate.)
Middle-earth celebrity guests this year are Graham McTavish (Dwalin), John Noble (Denethor), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), and Craig Parker (Haldir). On Sunday morning, 11.30am in the Marriott Imperial Ballroom, TORn staffer greendragon will be hosting these gentlemen in the ‘Heroes of Middle-earth’ session.
In addition to all that, there will be lots of Tolkien characters marching in the Parade on Saturday morning, and there will be all the usual opportunities to spend far too short a time among such excellent and admirable fans! Hope to see you there – let the fun begin!