Posted in: Featured Festivals Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices for Festival Organizers on October 30, 2018 by Shannon McFarland
You’ll find superheroes, villains, and anime characters at CaperCon. Or at least fans dressed up as their favorite characters from various games and shows! During the three-day convention in 2018, CaperCon brought together nearly 1,000 people while organized completely by volunteers.
This annual pop culture event in Cape Breton is like a smaller, local version of ComiCon, the enormous multi-genre entertainment convention. Fans play games, attend panels, meet guest stars from shows, dress up as favorite characters and showcase artistic tributes to beloved games or movies.
How CaperCon doubled the size of their event
Originally, CaperCon had a smaller venue and only a few vendors. But that first event several years ago attracted hundreds of people — many more than the coordinators expected!
Now CaperCon takes over Center 200, a sports and entertainment facility in Sydney, Nova Scotia. They featured nine guest stars, including actors, authors, and a Marvel comic artist. The event brings together about 1,000 fans and had a waitlist for both panelists and vendors this year.
How do they do all that? All with volunteers.
We caught up with Genaya Fraser, a CaperCon board member and also the programming director, to learn a few of their secrets about recruiting volunteers, managing vendors, and growing the convention.
How CaperCon recruits volunteers
Genaya is a substitute teacher and CaperCon organizing is what she does in her free time. For the last two years, they’ve used Marcato’s event management software for essential convention planning tasks, including managing volunteers.
“Marcato has been great, I can change the form based on what I actually need,” Genaya says. “The old form didn’t get enough information. Now it takes me two seconds and I click a button.”
She does CaperCon planning and organizing “here and there” as she finds spare time. She says in a few minutes using our Form Builder tool, she can make a custom volunteer application. Later she’ll spend a few more minutes to put a post up on their Facebook Page promoting the application.
Genaya says that friends and Facebook are the top ways that people hear about volunteering at CaperCon. Volunteers get to attend CaperCon for free, which is a big draw for fans strapped for cash. With a link posted on social media to the application in the Marcato app, it’s easy for volunteers to send in their information. The CaperCon team can then easily track applications and manage volunteers through their event management software.
The team behind the CaperCon Pop Culture Society keeps the buzz going in their community all year round on Facebook and at smaller events. They love hosting nerdy events, game nights and movie showings. The community gatherings keep the excitement building up for people to buy tickets or volunteer at the main event, CaperCon.
“We have people who want to come back and volunteer every year,” Genaya says.
Software for managing applications (and a waitlist!) of panelists and vendors
In 2018, Genaya says the convention reached capacity and had waitlists for both panelists and vendors. Like their volunteer process, they use Marcato’s vendor management tools to streamline online applications and payments for the event.
“We had forms for panelists, volunteer application, exhibitors, outside events, for D&D, and gaming applications,” Genaya said. “We had ten applications going at one point.”
This year they had more than 70 vendors, many who have come back year after year. CaperCon advertises the price of a table and a booth for vendors, then picks out the best candidates for their community. Many of the vendors are showcasing geeky merchandise, clothing or handcrafted art, like fan-related prints, pins, figurines, and other trinkets.
Genaya says the event changes a little every year, especially for vendors, depending on what new shows or games are “hot” fandoms that year. This year at CaperCon, there was a lot of merch and fan art devoted to the PlayStation dystopian adventure game “Detroit” released earlier this year. With the convention so close to Halloween, a number of vendors carry creepy and seasonal products.
Planning for next year’s convention
“Once you start doing it and have ideas about how to make it better every year, you don’t want to take a break,” Genaya says.
After this year’s CaperCon, the team immediately started getting excited about next year. They can’t say who just yet, but they are hoping for several big, new guests.
They’re already thinking about how to arrange rooms better, how to fit in more people, and which guest stars to invite. As the event grows, their biggest planning challenge is where everything will fit and figuring out who will do it.
“We’re doing it because we love it and care,” Genaya says. “We want people to have fun and enjoy it.”
Find out more about CaperCon at http://capercon.ca
Marcato’s event management software powers hundreds of conventions, conferences, sporting events, and festivals around the world. Learn more about our volunteer, vendor, and talent management tools for event planners.