Science fiction lovers were beamed through time and space Sunday at Binghamton’s first-ever science fiction convention, RoberCon.
With over 25 vendors and 15 fan groups, RoberCon was held at the Roberson Museum and Science Center on 30 Front St.
Over 700 people attended the event, according to Jason Fiume, the marketing and public relations manager for the Roberson Museum.
“What’s important to me is learning how much of a niche this is in our community,” Fiume said. “I don’t think that we ever imagined getting the kind of crowd we did out here today.”
Fiume said that RoberCon was inspired by bigger science fiction conventions like Comic Con, but the main purpose of the event was to bring the Binghamton region’s sci-fi community together. All of the money from Robercon’s $4 admission fee will go toward the museum’s educational programs, operation costs, presentations in the planetarium and maintenance of collections.
RoberCon featured vendors, costume contests, panel presentations and a reading by Anne Serling, daughter of “Twilight Zone” creator and former Binghamton denizen Rod Serling, from her book “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling.”
Attendees of RoberCon were encouraged to dress up like their favorite characters and embrace their inner nerd.
“You’ve got everything from Godzilla to Voltron to various ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ characters that were here,” Fiume said.
Alexandra McDowell, president of Upstate New York Cosplay Society, was a judge for the costume contest and finds a safe haven in conventions like RoberCon.
“Outside of the costume world, people can be cruel and harsh. We offer kind of a safe space for people so they can really feel like themselves,” McDowell said.
Contestants of the costume contest were judged based on accuracy, craftsmanship and overall presentation of their costumes. Justin Schroeder, a Binghamton native, won the judge’s choice for his “Freakazoid” costume.
“This is what we love to do — be huge, gaping nerds,” Schroeder said. “It’s a family atmosphere. It’s all about the love of comics, cartoons, anime, sci-fi, My Little Pony. It doesn’t really matter.”
Tom Henderson, a member of the Binghamton FanForce, a “Star Wars” cosplay group, hopes that RoberCon’s success will raise awareness of Binghamton’s sci-fi community.
“I think that we’ve proven that Binghamton does have a thirst or hunger for this kind of culture — sci-fi nerd stuff, if you will,” he said.
According to Fiume, plans are being made to make RoberCon not only an annual event, but also a two-day affair next year.
“We’re so confident that this is going to be an annual thing, that we printed it on this year’s program,” Fiume said.
Although RoberCon was meant to be primarily a fun event, Fiume hopes that the attendants of the event will see the fusion of science fiction and actual science.
“We do a lot of work with science and art history, and they have a place in the sci-fi world, too,” Fiume said. “It was fantastic for us to have all the activity in one spot.”