In the words of the event producer Joe Otoo, this year’s Kelowna Fan Expo—also known as KFX—will have “everything for nerds.”
KFX, which has grown from attracting just 350 people four years when it started to 2,300 last year, will be a four-site extravaganza this year, featuring cosplay, personalities from the world of science fiction, movies, television and stage, as well as vendors, props, hands-on opportunities, memorabilia, live performances, screenings and even a lip sync contest featuring Kelowna’s mayor, Colin Basran.
“It’s Comic Con meets the Fringe Festival,” said Bonnie Gratz, artistic director of New Vintage Theatre, which puts on the annual Kelowna event. This year it will go March 24 and 25 at four locations downtown—the Community Theatre, the Rotary Centre for the Arts, the Black Box theatre the KCT and downtown branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.
Both Otoo and Grastz hosted a kick-off event for the media Friday and revealed this year’s KFX will open with the highly regarded stage production One Man Stars Wars Triology, a George Lucus-endorsed retelling of the first three Star Wars movies featuring actor Charles Ross playing all the parts. The 75-minute performance will go March 24 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
KFX will close with the premier of the new science fiction movie The Recall March 25, a movie featuring action star Wesley Snipes and RJ Mitte, well known for his role as the son on the hit television series Breaking Bad. The movies director will be on hand and a number of its actors.
In between those two events, Gratz and Otoo said they have put together an jammed program featuring many well known and international-recognized artists and performers, including Aleks Paunovic from the shows Van Helsing and Supernatural, Katie Stuart from The 100 and X-Men 2, voice actors Kirby Morrow and Brian Drummond from Dragonball Z and Transformers, indie filmmaker Lisa Ovies, 1990’s YTV host PJ Phil Guerrero, artists John Delany, Ed Brisson, Kurtis Wiebe and high-profile cosplayers Gladzy Kei, Andy Rae, Sakura Elric,Spencer Voykin and Bethany McNab who will judge the cosplay contest.
There will be movie props on display, the library will be turned into a Harry Potter centre and there will be table top gaming there as well, video games will be plentiful, a Lego display and activity area will be at the RCA animation screening will take place as well as 60 artisans and pop culture business vendors on site.
“If you’re a nerd, there will be something for everyone,” said Otoo, adding the Okanagan is growing in stature in the animation and filmmaking business and is already home to many artists, actors and illustrators.
When it comes to cosplay, this area also has many enthuiasts.
On hand Friday was Nicole Mauro, who along with her husband are avid cosplay participants. On Friday she was dressed as Evie Frie, from Assassin’s Creed.
Decked out in a costume she created herself, complete with a walking stick/dagger fashioned from a curtain rod, she said the she has met a lot of friends through the world of cosplay, something very different from her “regular” life as a financial planner and mother of three.
But it’s a passion she, husband and now her children share. Her husband won one of the first cosplay competitions KFX held, with a costume she created for him of the dwarf king from The Hobbit movie.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mauro, adding the date of KFX is always one circled on her family’s calendar.
Tickets for this year’s KFX cost $75 for a VIP pass, $35 for a regular ticket at the door and $25 for a ticket bought in advance. Children 12 and under get in for $10 each.