This weekend, dinosaurs will once again roam the earth as Phoenix DinoCon — the nation’s only pop culture dinosaur convention — returns for its sophomore year. It promises to be bigger and better than before.
Having outgrown its hatchling phase at Arizona Museum of Natural History, which featured three vendors and 100 attendees, this year’s convention takes place Saturday, Aug. 2, A.D. 2014, at Phoenix Center for the Arts, which accommodates up to 400 guests who will experience a whole new level of dinosaur awesomeness.
According to Julia Zolondz, founder of Phoenix DinoCon, the convention will include a Velociraptor Vendor Room with 14 local artists, crafters and business owners with a variety of content “that must be at least 75 percent dinos,” a Diplodocus Demo Room with interactive activities, and a Tyrannosaurus Theater that features a series of speaker panels covering new topics such as kaiju — giant Japanese dino-monsters — and the Dinobots from the “Transformers” franchise. Although the event is suitable for those 12 and up, Phoenix DinoCon is truly geared for adults.
“The panels are not just a discussion about why dinos are so great, it’s debate,” Zolondz said. “We say the event is for those 12 and up, but the attendees that are 21 and over will have the most fun. We go into the who, what, where, why and when.”
The convention tries to accommodate what attendees want to get out of Phoenix DinoCon while maintaining its unique niche as a pop culture convention. As a result of a survey conducted at last year’s event, Phoenix DinoCon has increased its price from free to $5, the amount attendees said they would pay for a convention of last year’s size.
Phoenix DinoCon 2014 provides opportunities to discuss dinosaurs with like-minded fans and pop culture dinosaur experts. Attendees will get a first-hand look at the “Jurassic Park” T-rex from Sedona sculptor and VFX artist Michael Trcic, talk with geologist Melanie Dolberg about why dinosaurs are so appealing, and investigate with author Khurt Khave the steampunk dinosaurs that have stomped their way into Victorian-era science fiction.
Guests can also create their own “Jurassic Park” mini-notebooks, vote to determine the next inductee (Godzilla or the T-rex from “Jurassic Park”) into the Bookmans and Phoenix DinoCon’s Hall of Distinguished Dinosaurs, and even demonstrate their knowledge in a dinosaur-themed version of Phoenix Comicon’s annual Ultimate Geek Smackdown.
Zolondz said that the event’s main goal is for attendees to have fun, “but we also want to let people know that it’s OK to not ‘grow out’ of dinos. We want to make an event where people can say ‘I’m going to that because I love dinos’ and to just give in and have fun.”
Zolondz said that dinosaurs used to be her biggest phobia, but realized it was kind of silly, and watched all the “Jurassic Park” movies in a row to help overcome her fear. “And now I love them and became obsessed with dinosaurs,” Zolondz added. “I just think they’re so cool. They seem so confident, just lumbering around like a bad---. It’s almost like they’re unstoppable, so I try to live vicariously through them. I really admire their attitude.”
Admission is $5 and tickets can be purchased at PhxDinoCon.com or at the door on Aug. 2 upon availability. After-party tickets to a screening of the ’90s B-movie “Adventures in Dinosaur City” are available for $9 at TheFilmBarPhx.com.
• Zachary, a senior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for GetOut. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or email@example.com.