Superheroes clad in colourful suits waited with pint-sized princesses along with literally hundreds of other people in cosplay as they gathered outside the Rockhampton Regional Library at 8.30am on a Saturday morning before the doors opened to the highly anticipated CapriCon: Steampunk and Pop-Culture Convention on 7 April 2018.
Rockhampton Regional Libraries turned on a spectacular community experience at the start of National Youth Week which attracted a staggering 10,000 visitors into the library precinct during the 7 hour event. Promoting a free event of inclusion and diversity, the pop culture event highlighted the library as the community hub of learning, fun and engagement with a wealth of activities, panels, market stalls, competitions and photo opportunities for both young and old.
Young adults dressed in vibrant costumes milled in the library foyer, with children and families taking part in the Futuristic VR Fun, robotic games and 3D printing activities in the Library. Staff in the Library tent at the front entrance worked to ensure attendees had a library card to enter a lucky door competition. Market stalls selling pop-culture merchandise were on the library driveway with a large marquee set up on the closed road housing a Steampunk band.
Community groups, re-enactment groups and youth agencies had activity-based stalls to invite participation. Fun show rides and food vendors were located on the cordoned off road to frame the event. A KidsCon Concert featuring the talented early literacy advocate and pop culture legend Jay Laga ‘iai proved a phenomenal success early in the day. Using a First Five Forever focus to engage with local families, thousands of little superheroes eagerly joined in KidsCon activities placed around the city hall precinct before exploring the library. Balloon artists, photo-booths, comic book sellers, table-top gamers, autograph tables, green screens, Tardis & Dalek, miniatures, Steampunk Art Exhibition and other pop culture activities filled the library.
Other celebrity guests Wolf Creek actor John Jarratt, Matrix actor Matt Doran, author Traci Harding and cosplayer Artimis-I who featured on panels throughout the event. An Authors Alley and YA Anime/Manga Exhibition highlighted the literary creatives in the community. MMM radio presenters and pop culture fans emceed the activity ensuring the program moved along at a brisk pace.
The creative cosplay worn by the community was simply breathtaking with elaborate hand-stitched layers or moulded constructions proudly being worn. The cosplay competitions were fiercely contested with the ultimate winner of the adult cosplay competition winning a sewing machine from a sponsor.
A team of volunteer photographers moved constantly around the event taking informal and posed shots, creating some magnificent photo albums on our CapriCon Rockhampton Facebook page. Advertising of CapriCon featured on digital billboards in the city as well as in the local cinema. Drip-feeding of the CapriCon program in the lead up to the event on Facebook proved to be a magnet.
Library staff talked up CapriCon at every opportunity- on ABC and commercial radio ‘Library spots’, in community meetings and across Council. The local media, and surprisingly, the police, also got behind the promotion of the event. CapriCon showcased many streams of lifelong learning for different ages, interests and abilities. The creative costuming and freedom of expression provides an opportunity to showcase STEAM and imaginative play in a supported library environment. The event has allowed partnerships to develop between community groups and the library in presenting workshops, panels and talks to attract a non-traditional patron base. We were delighted to receive funding from the SLQ Vision 2017 for CapriCon 2018. Many other sponsors contributed and we would also like to acknowledge their support for Rockhampton and the region’s premium pop culture event.
About the author
Naomi Brownless is Manager Communities at Rockhampton Regional Council