Treknobabble #34: Trekzac Festicon

Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.

I only found out about this Star Trek convention on the night of the day it was being held, so I can’t give you a report of what it was like. But this event looks like something that I would have loved if I had known about it earlier and if I had had the nerve to attend it. Basically, it sounds like a Star Trek convention without the actors (and the obligatory autograph signings) or the merchandise vendors. From the article I read: “Now in its second year, the anti-convention is a blessed interplanetary union between independent arts culture and the unstoppable phenomenon of all things Trek.”

I’ve always been rather artsy and I have an appreciation for the avant-garde. This is the type of Star Trek convention that deserves to become a success. I’m guessing that there will be a third Trekzac Festicon next year. I’m guessing the attendance is rather small right now. I figure I should do my part in bringing awareness to this currently one-day event even though I must admit a certain trepidation in attending. By myself, I’m not sure if I could mingle and make a friend, even with Star Trek being something in common. And in such a small venue (one room), there would be no place to hide.

I had to do a little digging to get information, so I’ll provide some interesting links later to save you the trouble. I’ll make a few comments about some of the information that I uncovered, and despite not having witnessed firsthand what it’s like at the convention, maybe I can interest you enough to think about attending next year. I suspect non-Trekkies would find the proceedings rather boring, but maybe if you’re into the weird, you might find some of this entertaining.

Participation is encouraged at the convention and I wouldn’t be surprised if the organized participants outnumbered the off-the-street contingent at the first two Trekzac Festicons. I say this because the convention was not necessarily being run for profit. I doubt if the people providing the entertainment were being paid. Admission was only $5 in advance, and $10 maximum at the door. For a full day of Star Trek entertainment, I daresay that this is affordable and a bargain for any Trekkie. (Exact admission rates weren’t available at the official web-site.) Any net proceeds from admission go to TRANZAC.

Now before red alert signals begin reverberating inside your head, the TRANZAC is not some pseudo-religious cult organization trying to recruit members for the arrival of the mothership. Besides being the name of the venue where the Trekzac Festicon is held, the TRANZAC (Toronto Australia New Zealand Club) is a non-profit, member supported community organization with a focus on promoting arts, music and theatre. It also works to promote and support Australian and New Zealand culture in Toronto. (You might be asking yourself, “What does Star Trek have to do with Australian and New Zealand culture?” I don’t have an answer.)

Some of the participation activities at this year’s con included a faithful reproduction of the brain-controlled game from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Game,” a Parrises Squares Tournament, and a Pin the Toupee on the Shatner game. There was also a Star Trek craft making session in which one could actually make a Shatner toupee. With this kind of irreverence, I wouldn’t expect any Star Trek actor to make an appearance anytime soon.

You had to be 19 or over, because of the Romulan Pilsner beer sampling, I assume. Because of the age limit, I assume more adult themes could be addressed. One panel discussion at this year’s event was “Is Commander Chakotay Osama Bin Laden?” Although I don’t think Commander Chakotay was involved in or would condone any action that threatened life, human or otherwise, I think the main point of the discussion was how Star Trek dealt with terrorism in the future.

There was a demonstration of Klingon ceremonies and rituals, and a bat’leth demonstration by last year’s bat’leth tournament champion, Ranbir Gundu. Um, would someone tell me where the bat’leth tournament is held? Why have I not heard of this Ranbir Gundu?

For evening entertainment, there was music and comedy. There were quite a few bands and musical solo artists listed in the schedule. I assume they all played Trek-related music. (I went to an XTC convention in Bowden, England a while back, and there was a band who played some XTC songs and a set of their own music. The playing of their own music was not appreciated. People thought the band was trying to promote itself.) If you’ve ever wondered how Star Trek orchestral music would sound played with drums, a bass guitar, and an electric guitar, check out this performance from the first Trekzac Festicon:

I’m not easily impressed, but that video wowed me. And I personally hate when Star Trek music becomes Muzak with synthesizers and disco drum beats.

If I hadn’t been in Toronto and glanced at a newspaper article, I doubt I would have ever found out about Trekzac Festicon. The original article in which I found out about the Trekzac Festicon was in Eye Weekly.

I saw that article in the print edition which is a free tabloid-sized newspaper distributed in the largest city in Canada, Toronto, where the Trekzac Festicon is held. The article has some interesting comments from the organizer and a participant (the bassist from the above music video). Strangely, the article writer, Sarah Liss, admits to liking nerdy things, but she says she’s never been exposed to Star Trek. Never. How could a person like nerdy things, but not even try to catch an episode of Star Trek? At the height of Star Trek’s popularity in the mid ’90s, it was virtually impossible not to channel surf to an episode of some Star Trek series at any time of the day and night in Toronto. A popular, Toronto independent television station even prided itself in being called the Federation Station.

The Trekzac Festicon advertises itself as the only 100% pure Star Trek convention. I am aware of two other conventions in Toronto. One used to be primarily affiliated with Star Trek, but with the franchise’s waning popularity, the organizers have had to expand to include other franchises over the years like Xena, Buffy, Stargate, and presumably, Heroes. The other has a bunch of mini-conventions and also includes comic writers and artists. You would think that in a city of over two and a half million, there should be more geeky conventions taking place.

I’ve always thought that it would be fun to travel the world and drop into local Star Trek conventions to find out how Star Trek is treated internationally. I get the impression that Star Trek actors who travel to international conventions treat the fans there with extra special attention. I’ve even read about Star Trek actors visiting fan club members in gatherings abroad. I suppose having fans in far-off places is appealing. To know that what you do is appreciated by other cultures is somewhat of an ego boost.

Hopefully, with enough courage and with my time stream converging with the time streams of some of you about the same time next year, I’ll talk to you in person at the next Trekzac Festicon about J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie. And with the Star Trek belief that anything is possible, maybe there’ll be a repeat of the first ever Star Trek convention in New York where a couple of hundred were expected and several thousand showed up.

For more info, visit Trekzac Festicon’s official website:

  • swarez

    Do it Reed. Get your ass over to the next con.
    Better yet, do a sequel to your smash hit Cooking with Gerry; Cooking with Tribbles and show it at the next con. You’ll be a hit and women would like to have you cock their tribbles. Those furry scamps are always getting in to trouble.

  • Steven C.

    Hey Reed, Star Trek sucks. Star Wars is so much better.

  • “do a sequel to your smash hit Cooking with Gerry”

    That’s what we need.

    “By myself, I’m not sure if I could mingle and make a friend, even with Star Trek being something in common. And in such a small venue (one room), there would be no place to hide.”

    No matter how geeky you are (or think you are) you should just go Reed! It probably isn’t possible that you’d be the geekiest, loneliest person there.

  • ProjectGenesis

    Bring on the Reed/Jay Star Trek V commentary!!

  • If “Cooking with Gerry” gets 1000 YouTube views, then I’ll consider making a sequel. And I’ll make the sequel without Jay’s editing. And people will say that sequels suck with a few exceptions.

    Steven C, I did vote for Star Wars in our Eps. #4 Star Trek vs. Star Wars video podcast. I don’t think I have anything to add to this debate. My 10 year old nephew loves Star Wars. I think he thinks Star Trek sucks, too. I haven’t tried to influence him at all. It’s probably better that he doesn’t grow up to be a geek.

    I wonder if I waived an appearance fee, would people invite me to speak at their Star Trek conventions? I would expect travel and accommodation fees to be taken care of. Flying coach class and staying in your basement would be fine with me.

  • ProjectGenesis, a Reed/Rachel Star Trek V commentary would be even sweeter. We wouldn’t even have to be in the same room. We could record the commentaries separately and Jay could edit it together to make it sound like we were in the same room.

  • Finally, I located the information I was searching for. I have been doing research on this subject, and for four days I keep finding sites that are supposed to have what I am looking for, only to be discouraged with the lack of what I needed. I wish I would have found your website quicker! I had about 25% of what I needed and your site has that, and the rest of what I needed to finish my research. Thank you and keep up the good work!